Localization of Ethnic Groups in the Regions as a Factor in Cross-Regional Variations in Voting for United Russia

In: Russian Politics
Eleonora Minaeva Department of Political Science, European University at St. Petersburg St. Petersburg Russia

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Petr Panov Department of Political Sciences, Perm State University Perm Russia

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In the context of electoral authoritarianism, political mobilization is likely to be a more reasonable explanation of cross-regional variations in voting for the party of power than the diversity of the regions’ policy preferences. In the Russian Federation, the political machines which coordinate various activities aimed at mobilizing people to vote for United Russia demonstrate different degrees of effectiveness. This article examines the structural factors that facilitate machine politics focusing on ethnic networks. Although strong ethnic networks are more likely to arise if the members of an ethnic group live close to each other, and at the same time separately from other ethnic groups, so far researchers have neglected to consider the localization of ethnic groups within the territory of an administrative unit as a factor. In order to fill the gap, we have created an original geo-referenced dataset of the localization of non-Russian ethnic groups within every region of the Russian Federation, and developed special GIS (geographic information systems) techniques and tools to measure them in relation to the Russian population. This has made it possible to include the localization of ethnic groups as a variable in the study of cross-regional differences in voting for United Russia. Our analysis finds that the effect of non-Russians’ share of the population on voting for UR increases significantly if non-Russian groups are at least partially geographically segregated from Russians within a region.

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