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Article

Oppositional parties in hybrid regimes: Between repression and cooptation (A case of Russia’s regions)

In this article the author analyzes the intricate combination of repression and cooptation policies conducted by Russia’s ruling elites in their relations with the opposition on the regional level. As the study shows the structural features of electoral authoritarianism not only ensure the victories of “approved” candidates but also make the rare oppositional winners to adapt to the existing regime and change the political affiliation. If the regime gets more authoritarian the oppositional party can still be a tool to win a local election. But after being elected, the winner finds himself in another political environment of existing patron-client relations, and has no other choice than to become a dependent member, or an agent (according to principal-agent theory) in higher-level clientele. As a result, oppositional party has become useless in the recruitment of influential executive power elite. However, while blocking unwanted “invasion” of opposition into the executive power the regime allows opposition to be presented in the leadership of regional legislative power. This policy reflects the necessity to make an opposition more loyal and included into the system of power relations in most safe and efficient for the ruling elite way.