Elections by Design: Parties and Patronage in Russia's Regions

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9780875803555: Elections by Design: Parties and Patronage in Russia's Regions

Legislative elections are the defining institution of a representative democracy. They determine how the power to govern society is distributed among political actors, regardless of whether those actors are political parties, ethnic groups, or business interests. Yet the rules that decide how thousands, if not millions, of popular votes are translated into a relatively small number of parliamentary seats vary widely across, and sometimes within, countries.

Elections by Design—based on a skillful blend of statistical analyses and detailed case studies—seeks to uncover how electoral rules are chosen within the Russian Federation, and by whom. To enhance our understanding of electoral system choice, Moraski investigates the origins of the legislative electoral systems in the eighty-nine regions of the Russian Federation. These subnational units serve as a natural experiment by allowing an opportunity to observe the creation of representative institutions in a state transitioning from authoritarian rule. The regions also offer a rare glimpse into the dynamics of electoral system choice where political parties do not necessarily guide the decisions.

Despite the unique qualities of Russia’s political transition, Elections by Design reveals insights that can be applied to other transitioning states. Moraski emphasizes that institutional choice remains a political process, despite scholars’ recommendations that certain electoral systems are better for democracy than others. At the same time, he shows how electoral system choice at the regional level can frustrate party development and democracy at the national level. This study is particularly valuable at a time when American politicians seek to spread the seeds of democracy to areas where people differ along ethnic or religious lines and where a federal framework is needed to bring dissenting interests to the negotiating table.

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About the Author:

Bryon Moraski is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida.

Review:

"Tightly-argued ... Moraski's study is one of the first to tackle head-on the 'endogeneity problem' in research on electoral institutions. He constructs ingenious measures to test many of the key factors that political scientists hypothesize as influencing institutional choices."—Perspectives on Politics

"An interesting and well-conceived book ... combines sophisticated quantitative analysis with a focused comparison of four Russian regions and concludes with implications for current developments in Russia."—Slavic Review

"A rich and stimulating book. An exmeplary study ... intriguing throughout."—Slavonic and East European Review

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