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Working paper

Similar or Different? Exploring the Gap Between Federal and Regional Elections in Russia

Turovsky R. F., Marina Sukhova.
This research is focused on the issue of differences in results received in elections for regional and federal legislatures that are held according to the proportional system. In particular, the question of whether the authorities’ decision to favour the combination of synchronous regional and federal elections has proved effective. This research showed that, in simultaneous elections held at different territorial levels, United Russia always delivers better results at a federal level than at a regional level, while oppositional parties, conversely, perform better at a regional level than they do at a federal level. This can be explained by the phenomenon of strategic voting, according to which voters prefer to cast their votes for more stable and major players in federal elections, and that they are more likely to vote sincerely in regional elections. However, in separate elections these trends are not retained, and United Russia in particular has been noted to perform better in regional campaigns held during the inter-election period, than it did in the preceding and subsequent federal elections. Analysis of the degree of competitiveness showed that differences in the level of competitiveness in federal and regional elections are almost always lower in combined elections than in separate elections.