Кто виноват? Централизация и электоральное поведение титульных этносов в республиках России
Introduction: the electoral behavior of voters in many Russian republics is characterized by higher support for incumbents. However, recently some of them have witnessed a decrease in electoral support for the Russian president from representatives of the titular ethnic groups. Objectives: to find the answer to the following research question: why do representatives of the titular ethnic groups reduce electoral support for the Russian president in some ethnic republics, while this does not happen in other republics? Methods: the study uses qualitative data collected by focus groups in four Russian republics: Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Chuvashia, and Komi. Results: the analysis of the data made it possible to identify the main factors that determine the change in the electoral behavior of titular ethnic groups’ representatives. The results of the study suggest that a decrease in the electoral support for the Russian president among the titular ethnic groups occurs only if they consider both levels of government – federal and regional – to blame for the infringement of their ethno-cultural rights. This, in turn, stems from two factors: (1) the fragmented structure of regional elites and (2) the choice of a loyalty strategy by the head of the region in response to pressure from the center. Conclusions: the latest reforms in ethno-linguistic policy in Russia did not remain unnoticed and influenced the electoral processes in a number of ethnic republics. In some of them, the titular ethnic groups significantly reduced the electoral support of the Russian government and ceased to be a significant link in the mechanics of political machines. In others, their electoral behavior remains stable. This allows us to conclude that the structure of the current the Russian president electoral majority is undergoing changes. Moreover, although these changes are not tectonic and are rather local in nature, ignoring them may lead to the fact that researchers and experts in the future may not notice the onset of more fundamental changes.