Modifying Electoral Authoritarianism. What the 2016 Parliamentary Elections Tell us about the Nature and Resilience of the Putin Regime

in Russian Politics
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Through a focus on the 2016 Russian parliamentary election, this article seeks to assess the strength of the Putin regime and the nature of the system itself. In contrast to those who have heralded its imminent decline, it is argued that the regime continues to display great resilience, the election providing evidence of the regime’s adaptability and its ability to cope with challenges. The nature of the regime is also questioned. It has become commonplace for scholars to refer to Russia’s political system under the presidency of Vladimir Putin as “electoral authoritarian”. The article examines the function of elections in such systems, with a particular emphasis on the way in which elections provide the regime with legitimacy. The conduct and outcome of the elections not only points to the confidence and resilience of the Putin regime but might also suggest that a declining reliance on elections to sustain the regime may lead to a re-appraisal of the electoral authoritarian model as a compelling conceptualization of the Russian political system.




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