Recently, the Russian regions have attracted a lot of experts’ attention. In light of stagnating economy, public dissatisfaction with the federal policies has become particularly pronounced in the regions (which tend to be poorer than Moscow), as demonstrated by Kremlin’s failures to elect several of its candidates to the positions of regional governors in 2018.
Will the Kremlin’s failures at the regional level continue this year? To answer this question, we carry out a qualitative and quantitative analysis of factors that have contributed to victories by the pro-Kremlin candidates in gubernatorial elections that took place in 2012-2018.
The regression analysis based on the data regarding these elections shows that the percentage of the vote gained by the pro-Kremlin candidates positively correlates with a higher turnout (which can point to a higher possibility of election fraud) and the support for Vladimir Putin in the most recent presidential election. The key finding of our analysis is the correlation between the dynamics of real disposable incomes and the voting for the pro-Kremlin candidates, which hasn’t been earlier registered by similar studies. As social and economic situation in Russia continues to deteriorate, this correlation can be expected to become increasingly stronger.
The results of our analysis suggest that the population’s declining real incomes can lead to a substantial increase in electoral risks facing the Kremlin at the regional level.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Vladimir Kozlov is a specialist in economic geography and analyst of electoral processes. Graduated from the Lomonosov Moscow State University’s Department of Geography (1977); holds a Ph.D. (kandidatskaya degree) in Economics and Social Geography (1991). In 1977-2016, worked at Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geography; from 1995 to 2016, in the Mercator Group. In 1995 through 2008, Kozlov collaborated with the Russian Central Election Committee (CEC) on visualization of the federal elections’ results and production of the series of publications titled “Electoral Statistics” on the federal and regional elections. In 2001-2008, he was a member of the editorial board of the CEC’s Journal on Elections. Contributed numerous articles on elections in the media. In 2008-2016, worked on the Mercator Group’s projects (titled “Russia in Numbers” and “The World in Numbers”) at the Russia-24 television network.
Maria Snegovaya is a fellow at the Center for International Studies and Security at the University of Maryland, as well as at Free Russia Foundation and the Center for European Policy Analysis. Holds a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University and a Ph.D. (kandidatskaya degree) in economics from the Higher School of Economics. Specialist in comparative politics, international relations, and statistics. Key areas of research interest: erosion of democratic institutions, spreading of the populist and ultra-right parties in Europe, as well as in Russia’s domestic and foreign policy. Author of multiple articles published by peer-review journals; contributor to numerous media outlets, including the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the New Republic. Her work was cited by the New York Times, the Economist, Bloomberg and the Telegraph. Snegovaya regularly speaks at the U.S. universities and think tanks, including the Kennan Institute, the Atlantic Council, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Her work is listed in the course readings at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Science-Po), Syracuse University, UCLA, and the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.