Growing Pains: Russian Democracy and the Election of 1993

By Timothy J. Colton; Jerry F. Hough | Go to book overview

power of patronage and used it build his own foundation in Democratic Russia, Davydov did not have the type of personal network to win an oblast-wide race. Nor did his affiliation with Russia's Choice bring him enough support to win in a four-way oblast-wide race.

As was true elsewhere, these candidates were more successful at mobilizing strongly entrenched pockets of popular support than they were in expanding their appeal. This was a race won on past action and entrenched coalitions, not contemporary campaigning. Of all of the races, the race for Federation Council hinged on critical local factors: the quality of the candidates and their existing ties to social groups.

The weakness in the regional party system, translated into a weakness in the oblast duma, raises the possibility of the creation of a regional machine based in the hierarchic structure of the presidential administration. It is possible that the most important result of the 1993 elections was the rise of Dmitri Ayatskov in the race for the Federation Council. The campaign period revealed Ayatskov to be a masterful tactician and popular candidate. In interviews with the author in June 1995, members of the oblast duma claimed that there was an intense power struggle underway between Ayatskov and Belykh for control of the presidential apparatus. In spring 1996, Belykh was dismissed by Yeltsin because of his lack of support for the government party in 1995 parliamentary elections and replaced by Ayatskov.

Ayatskov has steadily built on the patronage network evidenced in his campaign and has been able to command dominance in local press and television coverage. The decline in economic conditions, persistence of a large public service sector, postponement of gubernatorial elections, and the lack of cooperation among regional elites in opposition to Ayatskov create the conditions for the consolidation of a patronage-based political machine that could easily dominate politics in Saratov.


Conclusion

The news for democratic consolidation in Saratov is not all bad. Although there was considerable speculation about systematic fraud in the 1993 election, in subsequent elections turnout has been raised, the number of spoiled ballots and votes "against all" have decreased, and the claims of outright fraud have diminished. Interparty competition seems to be growing increasingly open. However, intraparty politics on the regional level remain as obscure and closed to voter influence as they did in 1993. The re

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