Russian Election Reform and the Effect of Social Conformity on Voting and the Party System: 2007 and 2008
In 2007 Russian voters elected representatives to the State Duma under new electoral procedures that President V. Putin had instituted. A presidential election followed in 2008 leading to Putin’s new role as Prime Minister. To many observers, the reforms and the election campaigns resulted in a party system manipulated to the advantage of the government, although Putin’s reported goal was to reduce the number of political parties. Earlier research [1,2,6] reported that social conformity exerted a strong, persistent, and predictable influence on voting in national elections from 1991 to 2003. This analysis examines how the effect of social conformity on Russian voters might have changed from earlier elections as a result of the electoral reforms and campaign practices. Specific questions addressed are how well the political party system now aligns with the interests of voters, and whether this type of analysis can speak to fairness of the elections.
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