Growing Pains: Russian Democracy and the Election of 1993

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

ward the messages of the parties was not randomly strewn across the social landscape. Russia's neophyte parties, incapable though they were of carving out truly well-bounded bases within extensive segments of society, did find pockets and crannies of group support, as we have called them, and that was no mean achievement.

The third school of thought about voting decisions takes up issue opinions and attitudes, which Russians hold unabashedly and in abundance. It, too, contributes to an understanding of the election saga, and especially of the fate of the two parties with the most cohesive and boldly painted programs--Russia's Choice and the KPRF. Issue opinions, influenced in their own right by social variables, were voting inputs to be reckoned with, and projected images of which parties catered to citizens' opinions were more closely tied to the vote.

The noteworthy causal role of a fourth factor, leadership, may be interpreted as a sign of the immaturity and fragility of democratic practices in early post-Soviet Russia. Yet the prominence of personalities should not be entirely an occasion for pessimism. It is probably easier to grow and educate civic-minded politicians in a country in regime transition than it is to build partisan identification from the ground up, to transform social structure, or to inculcate radically new points of view in tens of millions of people. Assuming that Russians retain and gradually enlarge the capacity for making intelligible political choices that they displayed in 1993, we should be alert to the prospect that partisan entrepreneurs straining to enlarge their shares in the marketplace for votes will impart greater coherence to the electorate in impending elections.


Notes
1.
This is particularly so in the United States, where the classic statement remains Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes , The American Voter ( New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1960). Many issues about applicability to other countries are canvassed in Ian Budge, Ivor Crewe, and Dennis Farlie, eds., Party Identification and Beyond: Representations ( London: John Wiley & Sons, 1976). A landmark in the non-American literature is Philip E. Converse and Roy Pierce, Political Representation in France ( Harvard University Press, 1986).
2.
The leadership questions were all in the postelection interview. We asked respondents to state the party headed by Vladimir Zhirinovskii, Yegor Gaidar, Gennadii Zyuganov, Alevtina Fedulova, Mikhail Lapshin, and Arkadii Vol'skii. The

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