Growing Pains: Russian Democracy and the Election of 1993

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

CHAPTER NINETEEN
Bashkortostan The Logic of Ethnic Machine Politics and Democratic Consolidation

Henry E. Hale

DOES ETHNIC diversity undermine democratization? This question quickly rose to the top of scholarly agendas as the USSR crumbled, seemingly ushering in an age of nationally charged violence. Observers began to speculate even about mighty Russia, wondering whether its twenty ethnically defined republics would rend the fledgling federation asunder. Chechnya was ready to lead the charge, plunging into a war of independence with Moscow. Tatarstan has at times seemed ready to follow, boycotting federal votes and ignoring central law. But the majority of Russia's republics, including Bashkortostan, have remained oddly tranquil. Although eager to declare "sovereignty" and claim greater autonomy, these republics have consistently conducted federal elections, and ethnic tensions there have remained low. How can we explain such differences in the success of democratic institutions in Russia's constituent republics?

This chapter considers the case of Bashkortostan's 1993 election to Russia's Federal Assembly. Indeed, the results of this election were dramatic and puzzling, and not only in ethnic terms. Ethnicity appeared to play a remarkably insignificant role in the federal campaigns. Yet while ethnic Bashkirs make up less than a quarter of the population, they won five of eight territorial seats in the new parliament as a whole. Indeed, the republic sent a delegation to Moscow that was decidedly proautonomy, and a heated

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