Growing Pains: Russian Democracy and the Election of 1993

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

A centrist coalition was not forthcoming. Whereas the relationship between the four elements of the electoral contest served to bring the national and local campaigns of the Communist movement together, it worked to splinter centrist and reformist groups. Lacking credible local centrist political organizations and with individual candidates unprepared to stand down to maximize the anticommunist vote, centrist candidates ended up campaigning separately and often in opposition to each other.

The most significant aspects of the December elections in Kursk were, therefore, the inability of new elites to break the previous stranglehold of the Communists in the oblast, the failure of reformist conservatism, and the triumph of the reactionary conservatism of the rural Communists. This outcome was the product of factors particular to the local electoral struggle that in combination with developments at the national level ensured that the choices of Kursk's electorate were arranged to the advantage of the candidates associated with the socialist bloc, reinforcing their considerable structural advantages in the oblast.

As a founding political event, the December elections had a fundamental impact on the subsequent trajectory of local Politics. 82 In particular, the elections greatly accelerated the process of elite political consolidation in the oblast. The major beneficiaries of this process were the Communists who used the election campaign to reestablish their organization in the region after a time of considerable turmoil. The pluralistic elite that had existed in the oblast during the early years of independence was subsequently replaced by a far more homogenous structure. Although the governor continued to challenge the hegemony of the Communist political machine, following the December elections Kursk emerged as a reborn Communist stronghold. 83


Notes
1.
Summaries of the Kursk results for the party lists and the constitution are shown in tables 1-7 and 1-8 in this volume.
2.
The application of models of electoral behavior derived from established democracies to the December election is fraught with problems, notably because many of the social, economic, and political relationships that inform these approaches were largely absent in Russia in 1993. For example, the notion that party identification is primarily the product of group membership and socialization conducted in the family can, at best, offer only a partial explanation of voting behavior in a society without a recent history of partisanship and with very weak group identities. Nor, given the unstructured and fluid nature of Russian society, is it easy to identify the defined sets of interest that underlie rational models of voting. Never-

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