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Working paper

SYSTEMIC OPPOSITION AT RUSSIA’S GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS

This study is based on descriptive analysis of systemic opposition in Russia and its regions. We focus on the procedure and results of gubernatorial elections held in 2012-2015 in 62 regions (twice in two of them). The author has analyzed statistical information on electoral participation and performance of the opposition at gubernatorial elections, along with numerous interviews with political actors and experts. This study presents a logical model of ruling elites’ and systemic opposition’s strategic behavior and interaction proved by cases studied by the author in Russia’s regions. The author gives the definition of systemic opposition and analyzes its relations with the federal and regional authorities. Of particular importance is the role of systemic opposition in the legitimating of gubernatorial elections. However, the study shows that the legitimating process fails due to low turnout and usually leads to electoral losses of systemic opposition. Gubernatorial elections give systemic opposition very limited opportunities (despite the fact of its first victory in 2015) but still integrate it into the system while leaving the systemic parties with more chances to get political positions in legislative bodies.