Скованные одной цепью: механизмы электоральной мобилизации на локальном уровне в этнических республиках России
Introduction: researchers of the Russian elections have long noticed that in a number of ethnic republics the level of electoral mobilization and political conformism of voters is higher than the average in Russia. Despite the fairly numerous statistical evidence of the existence of this political phenomenon, we still know relatively little about the specific causal mechanisms for the reproduction of electoral activity in these republics. Objectives: identifying the factors bringing about a high level of electoral mobilization in ethnic republics in Russia. Methods: analysis of qualitative data collected through focus groups method in five regions: Republic of Bashkortostan, Republic of Tatarstan, Komi Republic, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Chuvash Republic. Results: as the result of the study it is concluded that a high level of electoral mobilization is caused by the combination of three factors, each of which affects different categories of voters. The institutional factor in the form of political machines involves into the electoral process those employed in public sector and industrial enterprises. The density of social networks resulting from specificity of rural way of life influences the electoral behavior of entrepreneurs and self-employed people living in the countryside. Finally, the Soviet legacy continues to determine the high political activity of the older generation, acting as a significant cultural factor. At the same time, there has been no empirical proof to a number of explanations whereby religion or ethnic culture of non-Russian ethnic groups is viewed as factors that simplify electoral mobilization. Conclusions: evidence on the role of the solidarity norms in rural areas during elections makes it possible to conclude that the consolidation and high intensity of horizontal relationships do not always promote the reproduction of civil society institutions and grass-roots democratic practices. As it is shown in the experience of the Russian ethnic republics, this element of social consolidation may well be integrated into the design of authoritarian elections. Thus, informal networks of grass-roots solidarity can be used not only by the opposition, but also by local authorities to increase electoral mobilization, which, in the current political context, rather strengthens authoritarian orders and practices than creates threats to them.