The Systemic Opposition in Authoritarian Regimes: A Case Study of Russia’s Regions
This study provides an analysis of systemic opposition in Russia and its regions. The main aim of the chapter is to examine the opposition from a new perspective which sees it not as an alternative to, but as an integral part of the system and even as a support element of the regime. We call the opposition systemic not because it does not have any ideas about how to change the system. In terms of ideology almost any opposition can be pretty anti-systemic. In other words ideological division is not a valid reason to differentiate the systemic opposition from the non-systemic opposition. The systemic opposition in contrast to the non-systemic opposition, is accommodated within the existing system. The opposition itself is a very controversial term and classic “power – opposition” divide in the Russia’s regime is a misleading analytical framework. In fact all of the registered parties are part of one political system with their roles and functions giving this system extra stability. In my opinion they should be considered as non-dominant actors with a limited access to power. I suppose that the analysis of opposition in Russia is more relevant in terms of non-dominant systemic actors while the notion of opposition may be senseless. All major parties have their relations with the authorities and try to bargain for more favourable conditions and positions in power. Rational strategy prevails for all non-dominant actors who combine oppositional electoral behaviour with political opportunism and collaborationism. The political system as a whole remains stable and reproductive since it allows the conversion of public discontent into the consolidation of political actors.