Combating the Opposition: United Russia’s Electoral and Party Reforms 2012-13
In Chapter 7, Alexander Kynev analyzes the dynamics of electoral support for the leading opposition parties in Russia. The study maps regional support for the systemic opposition and United Russia in the December 2011 elections to the State Duma, and the regional elections of 2012 and 2013. In addition, the chapter provides a detailed account of new party and election laws which were enacted in the wake of the mass protests in December 2011 and it outlines the various methods employed by United Russia to maintain its control over regional assemblies and executives. Kynev concludes that many of the new party and electoral laws were adopted in a panic as short term fixes, without much thought about their long term consequences. Some of these reforms, such as changes to the laws governing the registration of parties, the increase in the percentage of deputies elected in single member districts, which were aimed at fragmenting and weakening the system opposition, have backfired, allowing opposition parties and candidates to win seats in regional assemblies and take control of city administrations. Moreover, the liberalization of party rules has led to the creation of scores of new parties, many of which have managed to escape the Kremlin’s control. The creation of these new parties has ended up splitting the votes of the systemic opposition and United Russia.