The Nature of Mass Communist Beliefs in Postcommunist Russian Political Space
AbstractThe collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a democratizing regime in Russia during the 1990s raise several questions about the contours of Russian mass politics: Do Russians have structured beliefs that motivate political behavior? Does ideology guide Russian mass political beliefs? How has seventy years of Communist Party rule affected Russian political attitudes? This paper explores these questions through an analysis of public opinion from the 1995-1996 and 1999-2000 Russian National Election Studies. Using covariance structure modeling on a series of attitudinal questions, this analysis finds evidence of the Leninist legacy in the beliefs exhibited by Russians in the 1990s. In order to operationalize the belief system carried over from Leninism, I create an index of attitudinal indicators reflecting the attitudes Russians hold relating to the shared experience of life under communism. I look at the possible determinants of this belief system and test the extent to which it influences Russian voting behavior. As predicted, the attachment to these values is greater among older, poorer, less educated, and rural segments of the Russian population. In the mid-1990s this belief system appears to have had a greater direct effect on vote choice than did any socioeconomic indicators. While the direct impact of the persistence of communist values on vote choice had declined by 2000, it continued to display indirect effects on vote choice for the Communist Party candidate.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, UC Berkeley in its series Program in Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies, Working Paper Series with number qt8ds7f6zm.
Date of creation: 18 Jun 2007
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