Political Ambition, Elite Competition, and Electoral Success in Saratov Oblast
THE BALLOT of December 12 presented Saratov's voters with puzzling choices among seemingly endless alternatives. It is perhaps surprising that most regional parties and candidates offered little information to simplify voters' decisions. Only the regional organizations of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation ( KPRF) and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) made party-based appeals and worked to expand ties to the electorate. In response, voters narrowly confirmed their past pattern of supporting conservative representatives.
This chapter focuses on why other parties evidenced a persistent lack of leadership in the electoral arena and why they remained isolated from the voters whose support they needed to gain political power. In a series of political races in which single-member district candidates won by margins of less than I percent of the popular vote, a conservative outcome was not inevitable. Sound political choices on the part of individual aspirants--in particular, a reluctance to invest in party building or, indeed, to associate with their party--led to anomalous outcomes in single-member districts and a disastrous outcome for reform parties in the party-list race. Conservatives prevailed in regional elections because they were better politicians who responded effectively to the incentives embedded in the electoral law and political environment at the time of elections.