Этнический фактор в голосовании на местном уровне в России
Ethnicity, being one of the most important forms of selfidentification, plays a significant role in many political processes, including the electoral process. Many research articles document a systematic relationship between ethnic identity and voting. At the same time, there is a dearth of studies about the concrete mechanisms on how ethnicity and voting are connected at the individual level. The question of their efficiency remains debatable. In the article, based on the materials of the focus group discussions in small towns in five ethnic republics of the Russian Federation, the author analyzes such mechanisms and tries to assess their possible effects in the Russian context. The research study shows that the factor of ethnicity is very weak in voting at the local level. Although ethnic identification helps reduce information uncertainty due to the presence of the common cultural markers, these markers are not the only or even the priority basis for electoral choices — the socio-economic agenda and personal qualities of candidates are equally or even more important. Such mechanisms as group pressure and political machines that are driven by ethnicity almost fail to predict electoral behavior. The research findings call into question a number of conclusions based on the crosssectional analysis of aggregated data, indicating that even if ethnicity plays a role in voting, this role is mediated by other factors.