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Article

Движение наблюдателей на выборах в России: роль НКО как "школы демократии"

 The purpose of this article is to identify how Russian citizens’ participation in NGOs (both ‘isolated’ and ‘open’) affects their involvement in the movement of election observers and the intensity (frequency) of observations. A theoretical overview revealed the various ways nonprofit organizations effect the development of democracy — positive (‘school of democracy’), negative and differentiated. Taking into account the diversity of Russia’s non-profit sector, the authors preferred the latter differentiated approach. Six hypotheses were formulated and tested about the way participation in NGOs effects citizens’ involvement in election observation and its intensity. The empirical basis for the paper is data from an All-Russian survey of the general population, as well as data from an online survey of election observers conducted in 2013. It was established that the probability of becoming an election observer is significantly higher among those whose experience in volunteering and NGOs is complemented by interpersonal trust. The authors also revealed that citizens’ who participate in ‘open’ NGOs are more likely to become election observers and have more intense experience in observation. Participation in ‘isolated’ types of NGOs does not affect involvement in election observation, but increases the intensity of it. In general, it is shown that Russian NGOs, within the context of research, do indeed have the potential to be ‘schools of democracy’.