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Regular version of the site

Article

Bastions of Tradition: The Ethnic Factor and Political Machines in Russian Regions

Russian Politics. 2019. Vol. 4. No. 1. P. 76-111.
Shkel S.

The regional machines created by the Russian governors in the mid-1990s turned out
to be most effective in the ethnic republics. This phenomenon is supported by several
facts, with the primary as follows: the density of the patronage networks among the
rural ethnic minorities, and the economic heritage of the Soviet period and ethnical
institutionalization. These factors allowed regional elites to integrate ethnic minorities
into the clientelism structure to distribute symbolic and material benefits in exchange
for their electoral support. However, at present, the federal authorities have considerably
reduced the autonomy of the ethnic republics and deprived them of many ethnic
preferences. Basing on the analysis of the electoral statistics from the Russian Presidential
Election of 2018, this article researches the political consequences caused by
the changed relationship between the center and the regions, as well as the changes in
functioning of regional political machines in the circumstances where the governors’
institutional and resource autonomy has been reduced. The data analysis allowed for
the discovery of the diversified electoral behavior of ethnic minorities in different
republics. The reasons for the above diversification have been explained based on a
comparative analysis of five case studies (the Republic of Bashkortostan, the Republic
of Tatarstan, the Komi Republic, the Chuvash Republic, and the Republic of Sakha
(Yakutia)).