Modern clientelist exchange is typically carried out by intermediaries—party activists, employers, local strongmen, traditional leaders, and the like. Politicians use such brokers to mobilize voters, yet we know little about their relative effectiveness. We argue that broker effectiveness depends on their (1) leverage over clients and (2) ability to monitor voters. We apply our theoretical framework to compare two of the most common brokers worldwide, party activists and employers, arguing the latter enjoy numerous advantages along both dimensions. Using survey-based framing experiments in Venezuela and Russia, we find voters respond more strongly to turnout appeals from employers than from party activists. To demonstrate mechanisms, we show that vulnerability to job loss and embeddedness in workplace social networks make voters more responsive to clientelist mobilization by their bosses. Our results shed light on the conditions most conducive to effective clientelism and highlight broker type as important for understanding why clientelism is prevalent in some countries, but not others.
Do economic sanctions turn the public against the target government or cause it to rally around the flag? How do sanctions affect attitudes toward the sanctioner? How does bad economic performance under sanctions shape support for the target government? Despite their importance, these questions have rarely been explored with survey data. Results from two surveys in Russia find that exposure to information about economic sanctions does not generate a rally around the flag, leads some groups to withdraw support from the target government, and reduces support for the sanctioner. Respondents also react more strongly to the reasons why sanctions were put in place—the annexation of Crimea—than to the sanctions themselves. These results suggest the need to reevaluate theories of the impact of economic sanctions and blame-shifting under autocracy.
How do elections and post-election protest shape political trust in a competitive autocracy? Taking advantage of largely exogenous variation in the timing of a survey conducted in Moscow in 2011, we find that an election had little systematic effect on political trust, perhaps because vote improprieties were not new information. In contrast, the unexpected protest that followed increased trust in government. We argue that when autocrats permit protest unexpectedly, citizens may update their beliefs about the trustworthiness of the government. In this case, heightened trust arises largely from opposition voters - those most likely to be surprised by permission to hold the protest - who update their beliefs. Our results suggest that citizens may cue not off the content of a protest, but off the government's decision to permit it. In addition, autocrats can increase trust in government by allowing protest when it is unexpected.
Elite cohesion is a fundamental pillar of authoritarian stability. High-level defections can signal weakness, embolden the opposition, and sometimes, lead to regime collapse. Using a dataset of 4,291 ruling party candidates in Russia, this paper develops and tests hypotheses about the integrity of elite coalitions under autocracy. Our theory predicts that ruling elites defect when there is greater uncertainty about the regime’s willingness to provide spoils. Regimes that share power with the opposition, limit access to spoils, and lack formal institutions see more defections. Co-opting the opposition assuages outside threats but leaves regime insiders disgruntled and prone to defection. Those with personal followings and business connections are the most likely to defect, since they can pursue their political goals independently of the regime. Taken together, our results highlight important tradeoffs among authoritarian survival strategies. Many of the steps autocrats take to repel challenges simultaneously heighten the risk of defections
Based on the synthesis of a large empirical and theoretical literature on centre-region relations in China and Russia, Federalism in China and Russia is one of the first attempts to integrate this literature from different disciplines into a coherent common framework. Libman and Rochlitz argue that the divergence in growth performance between Russia and China can be at least partially explained by a number of features of the Chinese system of centre-regional relations.The authors offer a comparative analysis of the development of centre-region relations in Russia and in China and explore several dimensions of these relations: fiscal ties and incentives; bureaucratic practices; flows of information; and local government practices, while addressing the determinants of divergence between both countries. They also examine how the Chinese system has recently started to change, by adopting several features of the Russian model, which might be one of the reasons for Chinas declining growth performance in recent years.Federalism in China and Russia should be read by scholars in public economics, political economy and comparative politics, as well as by students and policy analysts. For scholars, the book serves as a point of reference in studying the comparative evolution of the two countries. It will enrich the discussion on fiscal federalism, centre-region relations and sub-national political regimes, and could potentially become an important part of syllabi in political economy, public economics and comparative politics courses. For policy analysts, the book offers a comprehensive survey of the evolution of centre-periphery relations of the two countries and the differences between them, which is important to better understand the overall development of Russia and China.
From robocalls to vote buying to electoral intimidation scholars have identified many ways that politicians mobilize voters to the polls. We develop a simple argument about the conditions under which autocrats will use positive inducements such as vote buying and negative inducement such as employee coercion of workers. Using survey experiments and crowd-sourced electoral violation reports from the 2011-12 election cycle in Russia, we find little evidence that vote buying was practiced on a large scale in this election. This finding is consistent with arguments about the decline of vote buying in middle-income countries. Voter intimidation, however, was relatively common, especially among employed voters and in Russia’s many single company towns where employers have much leverage over employees. In these single company towns, the consequences of job loss are so grave that employer intimidation may often be sufficient to induce compliance even without direct monitoring of voter behavior. Outside of company towns where employers have less leverage, active forms of monitoring may supplement intimidation in order to encourage compliance. These results suggest that employers can be reliable vote brokers; that voter intimidation can persist in a middle-income country; and that, under some conditions intimidation may be employed without the need for active monitoring.
Since 2008, tighter budget constraints have forced the Russian federal government to adjust the system governing its relations with the regions. This paper argues that more advanced Russian regions have the potential to develop a constructive response to the recent deterioration in their operational environment. This argument is based on an analysis of the experiences of coping with the external shocks that have occurred over the last 25 years in the Republic of Tatarstan. The paper identifies key factors that have helped the republic successfully tackle previous shocks, such as elite cohesion and internal consensus regarding republican developmental priorities.
December 19, 2016, witnessed three tragedies that could not go unnoticed by the Russian media: dozens of people died as a result of a surrogate alcohol poisoning in Irkutsk, a Russian ambassador was killed in Turkey, and a terrorist attack took place at the Christmas market in Berlin. In this article, we use the network agenda-setting theory to analyze how these tragedies were covered by different types of mass media. We show that ties between the tragedy and a network of other acute issues are more important than objective circumstances, such as the number of victims or the geography of the event. The context in which the events were examined led to greater attention to the killing of the ambassador and less attention to the surrogate alcohol poisoning. We believe that the state can exercise indirect control over the agenda by creating a network of events that will correctly guide discussions about tragedies.
The transition in Russia to a partially market-driven economy has failed to produce sustained and broad-based economic growth. The gains of economic growth are concentrated at the top of the income distribution, leaving a sizable part of the population trapped in conditions of low incomes. While abject poverty has largely been eliminated, around 40% of the population struggle to purchase more than basic consumer necessities. Spending on food occupies nearly half of household budgets for the lowest income decile. State social spending, which constitutes an increasing share of total income, is relatively non-progressive. Most is not means-based, but preserves the categorical benefits structure of the Soviet era. A combination of the bureaucratic-authoritarian institutional framework for decision-making and the strongly rent-based relationship between economic and political elites, severely limits policy options.
Egalitarianism is one of the key elements of the communist ideology, yet some of the former communist countries are among the most unequal in the world in terms of income distribution. How does the communist legacy affect income inequality in the long run? The goal of this article is to investigate this question by looking at a sample of subnational regions of Russia. To be able to single out the mechanisms of the communist legacy effects more carefully, we look at a particular aspect of the communist legacy – the legacy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). We demonstrate that the sub-national regions of Russia, which had higher CPSU membership rates in the past, are characterised by lower income inequality. This, however, appears to be unrelated to the governmental redistribution policies; we link lower inequality to the prevalence of informal networks.
To illustrate the role of organizations of lawyers in social changes we analyze the process of transforming legal and socio-political institutions in Russia over the past 30 years.We combine the theory of legal mobilization with the concept of violence and social orders proposed by North, Wallis and Weingast to describe the general logic of this process. Russian case shows that exogenous shocks stimulate collective action of criminal defence lawyers which, in turn, compel the government to respond. The state can promote the passivity of the legal community and stop legal mobilization by providing certain preferences for the profession. Even though in the 2000s, Russia took the path of destroying legal institutions, legal profession in certain circumstances could again act as an agent of social change. We conclude that the efficiency of collective action depends on the institutional capacity of legal association and on the position of the professional elite standing at its head.
What conditions enable governments, educational institutions, and enterprises to organise joint, comprehensive technical and vocational education systems (TVET) in developing and transitional countries? This paper explores this question on the basis of an original survey of enterprises in 12 Russian regions designed to determine the factors affecting local adoption of German-style ‘dual education’ in TVET. We distinguish between firm-level and regional-level factors influencing firms to form institutionally costly partnerships with vocational schools and government entities for the sake of upgrading skill formation. Our findings point to the importance of state intervention in fostering and enforcing firm-school partnerships in settings lacking the dense network of labor and business organizations characteristic of coordinated market economies in Western Europe.
Available evidence indicates that there is considerable variation among autocracies in the extent to which subnational officials are rewarded for economic growth. Why is economic performance used as a criterion for appointment in some autocracies but not in others? We argue that in more competitive—though still autocratic—regimes, the political imperatives of maintaining an electoral machine that can win semi-competitive elections leads regime leaders to abandon cadre policies that promote economic development. Using data on turnover among high-level economic bureaucrats in Russia’s 89 regions between 2001 and 2012, we find that performance-based appointments are more frequent in less competitive regions. These findings demonstrate one way that semi-competitive elections can actually undermine economic development under autocracy
This article attempts to open up the black box of the Russian Presidential Administration (‘the Kremlin’). Borrowing from literature on ‘institutional presidencies’ and institutional approaches to authoritarianism, I argue that the administration institutionalised over the years. More stable and predictable procedures enhanced administrative presidential powers, but personalism and non-compliance with presidential orders remained. Original data on budget, staff, units, organisational structure, and presidential assignments demonstrates that presidential power should be conceptualised as a polymorphous phenomenon that varies depending on the level of analysis. Researchers should aim to depersonalise their analyses and focus on ‘institutional presidencies’ and ‘centres of government’ instead.
What is the value of a family tie? Nepotism is a common feature of democratic and non-democratic systems, but our understanding of how and why family members of government officials receive preferential treatment is limited. Using administrative data on the universe of Moscow citizens to identify family links, I adopt a difference-in-differences design to estimate the labor market returns of having a relative enter the Russian government from 1999-2004. Employment rates and annual wages increase for individuals related to federal bureaucrats. Surprisingly, these relatives just as often find work in the private sector, over which the government has no formal control. To explain this, I demonstrate that companies strategically hire officials’ family members in order to receive state contracts and preferential regulatory treatment. Governments may be willing to overlook this type of favoritism in the allocation of jobs, since even if they do not benefit directly, nepotism creates a class of individuals invested in the current power structure.
The paper investigates the effect of Communist legacies on attitudes toward migrants in present-day Russia. Midway through the first decade of the 2000s, Russia established itself as an attractive center of labor migration. This rise of migration triggered an upsurge of xenophobic sentiment and nationalism. This paper examines the variation of anti-migrant sentiments across the regions of the Russian Federation and concludes that it is strongly affected by the legacies of the Communist regime. Regions with a higher share of CPSU members in their population in the 1970s are characterized by stronger negative attitudes towards migrants.
Effective systems of vocational education are crucial to economic and social development. However, coordination of labor market demand and supply of skill requires either well-functioning labor market institutions or institutionally-embedded strategic partnerships among government, labor, and employers. In particular, the transplantation of German-style dual education methods to a different environment poses significant institutional dilemmas. Russia presents a useful case for examining the conditions under which such arrangements can be established. Based on a series of interviews in six Russian regions and a set of case histories, we seek to draw testable hypotheses that can be applied to other settings.