When Do Political Parties Join Protests?

August 21, 2017 | Autor: Margarita Zavadskaya | Categoría: Political Parties, Russian Politics, Protest Movements
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When do Political Parties Join Protests? A Comparative Analysis of Party Involvement in “For Fair Elections” Movement Abstract Why some political parties join popular protests, whereas others abstain or even oppose? Using paired case-study comparison between the Russian regions, we examine political parties' strategies towards “For Fair Elections” movement in 2011-2012 and explain these choices through two jointly operating mechanisms: level of party institutionalisation and cooptation. We show that despite the symbiosis of the state and political parties and overall parties' loyalty to the regime, they differ in their strategy and degree of involvement in social movement development. There is a considerable variation among the same parties’ regional offices in their strategies. We argue that the mechanism of party institutionalisation explains the switch between involvement and abstention, while cooptation does a better job in explaining the “support/ counteract” choice. Keywords Political parties, social movements, contentious politics, sub-national politics, political mobilisation Introduction The State Duma elections in December 2011 resulted in an unexpected wave of public contention that spread across most Russian regions. Shortly after election day protests were transformed into “For Fair Elections” movement with distinct claims, organisational structures and public rallies gathering tens of thousands participants across the country (Volkov 2012, Yanitsky 2013). Major demands included annulment of election results, resignation of the head of the Central Electoral Committee and respective regional branches, registration of the opposition parties and new legislation for parties and elections (Batty 2011). The “For Fair Elections” movement became the most enduring public contention during Vladimir Putin's presidential tenure: the previous nationwide movement was against the monetization of the social benefits in 2005. However, the Communist Party spearheaded most of those rallies (Clément 2008), while “For Fair Elections” movement brought together a variety of actors, forging coalitions of different parties and nonpartisan organizations as well as individual citizens and their networks (Greene 2013, 2014). Party strategy and degrees of involvement in campaign varied greatly depending on the region and parties’ organization features. This article focuses on the conditions and mechanisms of the strategic choice made by parties in relation to the emerging social movement at the sub-national level. Scholars of party politics and social movements studies have recognized the importance of “party-movement” nexus, but established tradition focuses more on the systemic-level effects: parties representing a part of political opportunity structure, movements as integral part of modern polity. Area studies both in Eastern Europe and beyond confirm that there are similar patterns of parties-movements interaction (Goldstone 2003, van Biezen 2003, Kriesi 2013). The “For Fair Elections” campaign in Russia, its causes, dynamics and consequences also were widely scrutinized in the literature (Hale 2011; Smyth et al. 2013; Greene 2014), but the interplay between political parties and the movement remains terra incognita. Based on this theoretical and empirical gap in literature we seek to explain the variation in party choices in relation to “For Fair Elections” movement. Our methodology draws upon the rational choice approach and pairwise case-study comparison with the elements of process-tracing techniques, while the main methods of data gathering and analysis include fieldwork research (interviews and inclusive observation) as well as the use of descriptive statistics and some quantitative measures. We argue that two jointly operating mechanisms: level of party institutionalisation and cooptation can explain the choice of party’s strategies towards social movement. The extent of 1

political competition and electoral integrity identify the main contextual factors that are at play. We show that despite the symbiosis of the state and political parties and overall parties' loyalty to the regime, they differ in their strategy and degree of involvement in social movement development. There is a considerable variation among the same parties’ regional offices in their strategies. We conclude that the mechanism of institutionalisation explains the switch between involvement and abstention, while cooptation does a better job in explaining the “support/ counteract” choice. The article proceeds as follows: in the first section, we analyze existing literature on the “parties-movements” nexus, focusing also on the East European context, and then we turn to our methodology, case-selection procedure and description of the empirical data. In the third section we picture the variation in outcome of interest and explain it using two systemic (level of political competition and electoral integrity) and organisation-level (institutionalization and cooptation) mechanisms. Our findings suggest that organisation-level mechanisms have more explanatory power than systemic ones. Disentangling the “party-movement” nexus There were several waves of conceptualizing the “party-movement” nexus. Classical writings on party politics recognized the importance of movements for party formation, linking labor unions and left-wing political organisations (Duverger 1954, Michels 1959). With the rise of “new social movements” agenda in 1970-1980s this line of reasoning received a new input, as environmental movements transformed into Green parties in the Western Europe (Kitschelt 1989) and New Left movement created their own party organisations (della Porta 2007). On the other hand, there was a growing tendency to perceive movements and parties as alternative modes of political representation. Parties transformed from “mass” party model through “catch-all” to “cartel” that led to decline of the linkages between parties and civil society (Katz and Mair, 1995). Social movement studies literature claimed that “the emerging forms of collective actions differ from conventional ways of organization outside the established boundaries of political system”, highlighting non-partisan and out-of-system character of movements emerged in industrial democracies during 1960-1970s (Melucci 1989, 56). Party politics scholars, from their side, conceptualize social movements primarily as challengers to established political parties that became an integral part of the state (Mair 1997). In other words, it was presumed that social movements were preoccupied with non-institutional protest activity, while political parties enjoyed their privileged status as “polity members” (Tilly 1978). Examining this theoretical debate, Jack Goldstone supposed that it happened due to the concentration of early social movement scholarship on disenfranchised actors like New Left or Black Civil Rights groups (2003). In general, the “party-social movements” nexus in this strand of literature wider debates on civil society and democracy and particularly the role of parties and movements in representation and democratic governance (Kitschelt 1993). That was the adherents of the resource mobilisation theory who began to narrow the gap between party politics and social movements approaches. Roberta Garner and Mayer Zald posited, “[p]arty structure is probably the single most important variable for understanding the pattern of social movements. Movements can only be understood as one part of a range of options that also includes political parties. Movements compete with parties. Movements infiltrate parties. Parties spin off movements, either deliberately or in the process of factionalizing. Movements appear within parties. Movements become parties. Both are organizational forms for pursuing political ends, so it is not surprising they are so closely intertwined” (1989: 312). How exactly parties and movements interact with each other was further elaborated within “political process” and “dynamics of contention” approaches (Tarrow 2011: 168-169, Tilly et al. 2001). According to these 2

theories social movements make a part of political environment that shapes the structure of alliance and conflict (Kriesi 2013), and parties in return are embedded in political opportunity structure that shapes the movements' strength and sustainability. For the movements to emerge the conducive opportunity structure is necessary: Jack Goldstone's review concludes that “in the United States and Western Europe, political parties and social movements have become overlapping, mutually dependent actors in shaping politics, to the point where even longestablished political parties welcome social movement support and often rely specifically on their association with social movements in order to win elections» (2003: 4). The question is whether this approach remains valid for Eastern European countries and broader post-communist world. Voters, parties, context and models of party system formation in the former communist countries took different path: contrary to what Rokkan and Lipset observed in Western Europe, party formation did not follow the preceded mass mobilisation, party electorate was more open and volatile, and party organizations made an “evolutionary leap” to “catch-all” or even “cartel” models (see Mair 1997, Ch.8). Other specific features include low membership, frequent fissions and fusions, and blurred boundaries between parties and other associations including social movements. Not only party links with civil society are weak (van Biezen 2003, Millard 2004, Gherghina 2014), but the civil society itself (Kopeckỳ and Mudde 2005). Disengagement from politics and low trust in political institutions alongside with lower density of associations are clear obstacles for movement formation. Nevertheless scholars observed similar patterns of party formation beyond movements (Glenn 2003), transnational linkages (Chilton 1994, Císař 2007), and parties as access points for discontent public (Ozler 2008). In former Soviet countries some of the features that are inimical to party and movement development seem even more pronounced (see Millard 2004). Nevertheless Robertson (2010, 99) while studying patterns of protest in the post-Soviet Russia, and noticing the qualitative difference in “organizational ecology” in Russia and established democracies, points to the necessity for researching the links between organizations (parties as well) and protest movements. Development of party systems and party organizations in post-communist countries is wellstudied (Spirova 2007, Tavits 2013, Gherghina 2014), whereby the trajectory of party system development in Russia is predominantly described as a movement from the fragmented party system to the dominant one. The features of the constitutional design, unstable social cleavages and the consolidation of central government's power under Putin's presidency played the crucial role in this process (Hale 2005; Gel’man 2005). At the same time, party organisational evolution follows the general pattern: the rise of elite consolidation and voters’ mobilisation functions at the expense of representation (Sakwa 2012; Robinson 2012), development of cartel parties (Hutcheson 2013), and diminishing linkages with civil society (White 2012). Even “parties of power” are foredoomed to be just “voting machines”: “It is the government, or rather the administration – the ‘true’ party of power, with its domain first of all in the executive branch – that ‘defines’ the ‘ruling party’, and not the other way round” (Oversloot and Verheul 2006, 400, see also Grzymala-Busse 2007). The symbiosis of parties and state is a widespread phenomenon in Eastern Europe (Kopeckỳ 2006, 270), nevertheless party organizations have become a crucial part of political environment and political opportunity structure providing resources for or acting as social movement organisations, or affecting political alliances and coalitions. Indeed, parties played a great role in post-communist era public protests (Ekiert and Kubik, 1998). In Russia too parties have limited impact on the overall level of protest (Robertson 2010), but play an important role in sustaining public campaigns and movements. For instance, nation-wide campaign against monetization of the in-kind benefits in 2005 heavily depended on the left-wing parties (Alexandrova and Stryuk 2007, Clément 2008), environmental movement is closely linked to “Yabloko” and a host of other political organizations (Yanitsky 2013). Opposition parties were visible during the 2008-2011 grass-roots 3

mobilisation (Clément et al. 2010). The “For Fair Elections” campaign despite its frankly nonpartisan claims and composition (Volkov 2012) became an important arena for the interplay between political parties and protesters. What we lack, however, is both empirical and theoretical studies of the causal mechanisms leading to party involvement in the formation of movement and its further development. If parties and social movements operate in the same domain, what determine particular political party organization to engage with movement? We develop our theoretical argument in the next section. Theoretical framework and methods Given the importance of the “party-movements” nexus, there is surprisingly little research on the models of interplay between political parties and social movements. Verge in a wider context of party-civil society relations identifies three strategies: creation of groups, penetration and collaboration (2012). Kriesi shows that parties can be allies to movements or movement organizers (2013). Schwartz’s study presents the most comprehensive analysis of the interaction between parties and movements highlighting that their interplay “range from ones that bring movements and parties] into close contact to those that emphasize their opposition and distance” (2010: 588). She identifies coordination (through alliance or mergers), invasive (through insurgency, displacement or cooperation) and hostile (in form of disruption, discrediting and purges) strategies and provides rationale for choosing the particular strategy: “closeness brings new resources of timely issues and added support while distance separates them from unpopular causes, internal dissension, and unwanted pressures for change (Schwartz 2010: 601). We adapt this triad to analyze choices made by party organizations towards “For Fair Elections” movement in 2011-2012 Russia: first merging “coordination” and “invasion” into “engagement category” since both denote active involvement on behalf of the movement, and adding “abstention” type. A set of indicators approximates each party strategy (see Table 1). Table 1. Types of party strategies Strategy


Coordination (A)

Public support of the movement, wide presence of members and party symbols, even organizational involvement, joint public actions.

Hostility (B)

Public discontent with movement and its claims, countermobilisation actions.

Abstention (C)

The absence of official party's articulated position regarding campaign’s issues.

To explain variation in choices we strive to find a plausible causal mechanism behind political parties’ choices. Mechanism is a “delimited class of events that alter relations among specified sets of elements in identical or closely similar way over a variety of situations” (Tilly et al. 2003: 24). We concentrate on two organization-level mechanisms – level of party institutionalization and party’s cooptation with the regional ruling coalition. At the same time, we account for two systemic regional features that define the overall context in which political parties and movements operate: the degree of political competition and level of electoral integrity. Organization-level mechanisms imply that party organization must have an ability and incentives to engage with the movement. Party institutionalization is “the process by which organizations and procedures acquire value and stability” (Huntington 1968, 12) - constitutes the mechanism, essential for parties’ involvement in protest activities. We assume that more developed and autonomous party organizations have by definition more organization resources at their disposal to support the protest or counter-mobilize its opponents. We measure party 4

institutionalization through the index of party institutionalization suggested by Basedau and Stroh (2008) that stems from the Huntington and Panebianco’s concepts of institutionalization and includes four components: roots in a society, autonomy, organization and coherence. Roots in a society stand for external aspect of party’s stability that is reflected in a party’s age since democratization, electoral support and links to civil associations. Autonomy represents external value aspect that denotes party’s independence from influential individuals from within and societal groups from the outside, which we grasp through the number of party leadership changes at the regional level as well as internal autonomy in decision-making. The presence of functioning organizing apparatus, regular party congresses, wide net of membership, material and personal resources represent internal dimension of stability. Finally, internal value aspect is measured by party’s coherence, the lack of splits and intransigence, as well as tolerance to internal dissidence and absence of dysfunctional factionalism (see Appendix Table B). Thus, relatively high level of institutionalization corresponds to higher autonomy of the regional party organizations. Therefore, we calculated the party institutionalization index for each regional party branch in Perm and Tyumen1. Higher levels of institutionalization lead to higher propensity of an active reaction to the protest movement. Although, this logic does not explain the nature of party’s activity – will it be oppositional (A) or loyal (B)? The mechanism of political cooptation fills this gap and suggests that the incumbent pursues an interest of pacifying the most dangerous rivals through their cooptation and consequent inclusion into the winning coalition and rent redistribution networks (Gandhi and Przeworski 2007). This reminds a party cartelization process in Western Europe (Katz and Mair 1995). As long as parties cease to represent their electorate, they are not eager to join any regional protests as it could undermine their position within the regional winning coalition. Therefore, political parties that have some stakes in regional legislatures would refrain from collaborating with the protesters. On the other hand, non-co-opted non-parliamentary and opposition parties should share more incentives to cooperate with protesters. Furthermore, at the regional level the constellations of co-opted parties differ from the federal one, the latter induces more unexplained variation2. We capture the extent of cooptation through the share of seats at the country and region levels, personal cooptation of separate party activists (positions of vice-speakers, committees heads etc.) (Reuter and Robertson 2013). We expect that cooptation constitutes the decisive mechanism at the second stage of decision-making by party leaders, i.e. a choice between A and B. The systemic features– the level of political competition and electoral integrity – define the regional context in which aforementioned mechanisms are at play. Regional regimes may considerably differ in terms of a country’s political climate as electoral authoritarianism spread unevenly across territory and by different means (Gel’man 2010). Therefore, the regional context transforms most of the federal policies. For instance, in regions that are more competitive the deviation from federal policy would be more striking and the probability of active protest participation or counter-mobilisation is higher. Those regions where elites are more fragmented and there are heavy clashes between the interest groups, the parties within the winning coalition have fewer incentives to support the protest movement, while the party organizations that oppose the governor would strive to exploit the protest instrumentally. Thus, the protest movement turns into a resource of the regional political groups in the political bargain (see Robertson 2010). Thus, the higher the level of a sub-national regime’s competitiveness, the closer will be the 1

The coding procedure and measurement details are available in the Appendix. For instance, in Perm the UR[explain the abbreviation] has been in opposition to the Governor Oleg Chirkunov. The regional politics prior to 2011 was characterizefd by the confrontation of the Governor’s clientele to other interest groups gathered under the UR’s umbrella. See http://lyubarev.narod.ru/elect/mn-1.htm; http://www.moscow-post.com/politics/001291792181991/ 2


ties between parties and voters, therefore the expected strategy would be joining the movement facilitated by the political opportunity structure (e.g. absence of direct repression) and interest in maintaining ties with potential constituencies that showed up at the meetings. The Index of regional ‘democraticness’ (Petrov and Titkov 2011) grasps the aspect of regional competitiveness along with the share of “the United Russia” in the regional legislature and vote margin. Another contextual feature draws on the recent literature on electoral integrity and post-electoral protests that bridges the social movement theory with the dynamics of electoral authoritarian regimes. Within this framework elections represent a so-called ‘focal point’ that facilitates coordination between actors and solves the collective action problem (Bunce and Wolchik 2010; Tucker 2007). As soon as elections form the arena where voters, political parties, public administration and electoral management bodies meet, the quality of elections becomes the cornerstone of the polling day. It is the electoral fraud, voters’ intimidation, repression of opposition groups, vote buying and other items from ‘the menu of manipulation’ (Schedler 2006) that spurs mass protests in electoral authoritarianism. The recent research revealed a significant effect of electoral integrity on voter turnout, legitimacy, protests and likelihood of violence (Norris 2014). The latter provides ground for the hypotheses that elections ease coordination not only among protesters and civic groups, but oppositional in the regional context political parties as well. Electoral fraud is “deliberate wrong-doing by election officials or other electoral stakeholders, which distorts the individual or collective will of the voters” (Vickery and Shein 2012, 9). According to J. Tucker, major fraud that could have potentially altered the electoral outcome in the situation of close race, could transform into the mass protests, as it happened in Georgia in 2003 and Ukrainein 2004(2007). Furthermore, simultaneous personal witnessing of electoral violations by thousands of voters help politicizing previously apolitical voters, and, thereby, offers the opposition, deprived of other resource, a unique chance to lead the protest movement. Thus, the lower the quality of elections is, the higher the probability of protests and, consequently, opposition parties’ mobilisation. To capture the quality of elections we use the electoral fraud forensics literature. The latter posits that fraud has been an integral part of the Russian elections since 1991, particularly in ‘the ethnic’ republics (Myagkov and Ordeshook 2008). However, after 2007 the toolbox of manipulative techniques has spread to the rest of the regions (Bader and van Ham 2014; Moser and White 2013). Most of the forensics build on the incumbent vote share and turnout at the precinct level. For instance, in 2011 in many regions there was an abnormally high voter turnout that strongly correlated with the votes cast for “the United Russia” (Shpil’kin 2014; Enikolopov et al. 2013). An alternative method is the analysis of the last significant digits distribution in the electoral tallies. For instance, there was registered an unusually frequent number of 0 and 5 (Mebane and Kalinin 2009). We expect that in those regions where the number of anomalies is higher, the scale of protest is bigger and parties would more willingly join the protesters or counteract them. We employ a paired most-similar design case-study with the elements of process-tracing. The logic of case-study is alternative to quantitative analysis implying hypothesis testing based on the supposedly conditioning influence of one or several factors on the outcome taking into account their sequence and interaction, rather than co-variational relations between variables. Thus, as opposed to “Why Y happened” type of question, “the case-study’s aim is to reveal the sequential and situational interplay between conditions and mechanisms in order to show in detail how these causal factors generate the outcome of interest” (Blatter and Haverland 2014, 59). Mechanisms are defined hereby as a stable sequential linkage between independent variable and outcome, in our case the latter is party's strategy towards the movement, whereas the former consists of variety of mechanisms explaining choice of particular strategy. As we certainly chose inclusiveness over homogeneity of data (Tarrow 1996), we use a mix of mechanism measurements: fieldethnographic and indirect measurement through statistical indicators (McAdam et al. 2008). This 6

research design implies a wide range of empirical data to work with. We use both qualitative and quantitative data: observation lists, interviews and focus groups with protesters and partisans, media reports, electoral statistics, audiovisual sources and databases on protest-events in Perm (2011) and Tyumen (2008-2011) collected by authors. Although these data are far from being full, it allows us to test alternative explanatory models under diverse political sub-national conditions, while keeping non-political causes constant In case-oriented research, it is important to elaborate a proper selection of cases. Blatter and Haverland suggest three possible options: co-variational analysis to look for the same mechanisms in diverse cases, and causal process-tracing and congruence analysis (within-case techniques for alternative hypothesis testing) (2012, 42). Our strategy combines all of them through generating alternative mechanisms at the first stage and testing them both within and between cases. As for case-selection, again, we use Blatter and Haverland’s ideas that, first, selection must be deliberative (non-random), second, there must be presence of co-variation in independent variable among cases, and, lastly, cases should be as similar as possible in the variable you seek to control. The cities of Perm and Tyumen meet these requirements: control socio-economic conditions are almost similar, while conditions (level of political competition) and outcome of interest (party strategies) vary. Many political organizations were active during “For Fair Elections” chain of events, but we analyze only those parties that were registered according to the Russian law prior to December 2011 elections, a set of unregistered political organizations were left apart. (Ryzhkov 2012). Explaining party choice: Perm and Tyumen compared The episode of contention we focus on is the nationwide “For Fair Elections” movement in Russia in 2011-2012. At the 2011 federal elections, seven registered parties - “United Russia” (UR), “Just Russia” (JR), Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF), “Yabloko”, “Patriots of Russia” (PoR) and “Right Cause” (RC) – were competing for 450 seats under proportional representation scheme. The UR represents the so-called “party of power” that was founded in 2001 because of merger between political bloc of regional governors (HomelandAll Russia) led by Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov and pro-Kremlin Unity party. It has been the dominant legislative power since 2003 when it managed to establish the majority. CPRF is the CPSU successor party, while LDPR represents the populist and nationalist party headed by the charismatic and scandalous Vladimir Zhirinovsky, “Yabloko” is the oldest liberal party. All of them are the most long established parties since the early 1990s. The JR, PoR and RC, to the opposite, are the Kremlin products of mid-2000s allegedly aiming at different electorates: JR advances center-left political agenda and significantly washed out the Communist party’s core electorate; PoR is a patriotic party without pronounced programme, and RC is a new political project with clear liberal agenda (Gel'man 2008). According to the official results, four parties overcame electoral threshold: UR (49.3% and 238 seats), KPRF (19.2% and 92 seats), JR (13.25% and 64 seats) and LDPR (11.7% and 56 seats)3. Unusual spikes in opposition parties support were largely attributed to the so-called “Navalny strategy” (vote for anybody but “United Russia”). Shortly after December the 4 th public protests erupted across the country, most notably in Moscow, where the next day from five to ten thousand people showed up at the rally organized by “Solidarnost” movement. Some participants including Il'ya Yashin from “Solidarnost”, anti-corruption activist and blogger Alexei Navalny and 300 other were arrested and detained for fifteen days shortly after the event. News about Moscow rally spread fast via social media together with numerous proofs of election fraud (OSCE 2011; Russia Elections 2011). 3



In Tyumen, there were elections to regional legislature in addition to the federal ones. Subnational regime in the region was characterized by strong consolidation of power by administrative elite/ executive branch, its domination maintained through variety of mechanisms with the UR regional branch as a major channel of possible rivals' cooptation, firm control over media and literaly absence of independent non-governmental organizations. On the eve of 2011 elections, UR had 30 out of 34 seats in regional legislature, consolidated overwhelming amount of financial donations and controlled all of the municipal councils. UR's opponents in the region were consistently pushed out of political process, though not entirely (Semenov 2014). The wave of contention in Tyumen followed the national patterns with its peak on 10 th and th 24 of December (simultaneously with meeting on Bolotnaya square and Sakharova prospect in Moscow respectively) gathering up to 1500 and 700 participants. The only visible party was CPRF, while members of LDPR Just Russia and Right Cause joined the protests privately. In February 2012 number of protesters declined significantly and after presidential elections almost diminished. In contrast to Tyumen Perm region is among long-standing leaders of democratic development in Russia with high level of political competition (including intra-elite fractures) and strength of civil society groups (Petrov and Titkov 2011). Perm was one of few cases where UR's victory was unclear. In 2011 UR got only 36% of the votes, while CPRF – 21%, LDPR – 17,9% and JR - 16,4, on the one hand, increasing its share since 2006, but with KPRF and other parties catching up. Most of the oppositional parties joint the FFE movement, which attracted up to 2000 participants in December 2011 and managed to sustain active turnout up 200 until June 2012. Considering the strategies, United Russia was the only party explicitly having chosen/that chose to counteract for as “party of power” and a major movement's target. The rest utilized B and C options (see Table 2). The UR framed its counteractions as a response of concerned citizens to the “Orange revolution” threat. Partisans and youth branch members were mobilized, alongside with the loyal NGOs and public sector employees. First public events took place shortly after the elections results had been announced. On the 13 th of December 2011 the UR brought about 1000 participants to the meeting with slogans like “We do not need great upheaval – we need great Russia” and “Putin – strong Russia”. On the 18th of February 2012 in Perm and Tyumen mass rallies “Clean Elections – Clean Victory” took place, gathering about 5,000 people (2000 according to official statistics). The Tyumen’s Governor Vladimir Yakushev highlighting difference between “Tyumen-dwellers” and “oppositionists” (equal to the FFE campaigners) stated: “Tyumen residents do not have habits to go to the meetings, but they have habits to work. They are accustomed to prove by deeds that we are among the best today in Russia” (Observation list from 18.02.2012, Yakushev 2012). The Liberal-Democratic Party (LDPR) in both cases oscillated, supporting, on the one hand, movement's slogans and frames (especially the general frame of injustice), on the other, carrying out its own parallel campaign and comparing the FFE movement with “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine in 2004. On the federal level immediately after December 2011 elections the party officials agreed with the results: Zhirinovsky stated that there has to be an investigation of some particular cases of fraud, but not a single official (like the head of Central Elections Commission Vladimir Churov) or body (CEC itself) responsible for falsifications were mentioned. LDPR launched the parallel “For Clean Elections” campaign, and some of its slogans were identical to the civic campaign. In Perm and Tyumen simultaneously with the FFE nation-wide event on the 4th of February 2012 LDPR held meeting with the same title. In Tyumen, about 50 participants gathered and the general party strategy was once again articulated. As one of the speakers put it, “elections were not fair enough, but this is not a reason to support revolutionary movements” (Observation list from 04.02.2012). Later the LDPR completely distanced itself from the FFE movement, concentrating on presidential campaign.


Table 2. Comparison of parties' strategy in Tyumen and Perm

Партии United Russia CPRF LDPR Just Russia Right Cause Patriots of Russia Yabloko

Tyumen Hostility Engagement Hostility Abstention Abstention Abstention Abstention

Perm Hostility Engagement Hostility/Abstention Engagement Abstention Abstention Engagement

Source: Authors’ data.

CPRF in both cases and Perm branches of the JR and Yabloko joined the protests, protesting against elections fraud and results. On the federal level, communists supported the FFE movement, but were at odds with its liberal part. CPRF's leader Gennady Zyuganov in his interview on the 28th of December 2011 said that he and communists “share the rage of millions of people against arbitrary rule during the last elections”, adding that the very legitimacy of current Duma convocation is at stake and targets Vladimir Churov. Perm and Tyumen regional communists also explicitly supported the FFE campaign. In the latter case CPRF traditionally is among the most vocal protesters, together with RKRP they eventually took over the organization of movement in Tyumen, gaining dominance in the Council of Initiative Groups and Citizens (CIGS) – the major organizer of campaign in the city (Agapov 2013). In Perm communists' presence was eclipsed by non-partisan actors, but red flags and CPRF members were visible, and some CPRF officials were present in “24th of December Committee”, Perm analog of the CIGS. Later on CPRF attempted to approach Sergei Kurginyan’s leftist conservative movement “Sut' Vremeni”: in Perm communists participated in counter-meetings named “Against ALL Crooks and Thieves” (Alternative meeting “Against ALL crooks and thieves…, 2014). After presidential elections, CPRF remained an active participant, and while the FFE movement had been dissolving, it strengthened its visibility. As one of CPRF members put it, “the less [non-partisan] participants, the more red flags [appeared]” (Interview with Sergey Andreyanov, 2013). The JR on the federal level faced a challenge, since some of its high-ranked MPs supported the movement, and party leader Sergei Mironov renounced the results in Saint-Petersburg and Astrakhan (Sergey Mironov: My ne priznaem…, 2014). However, on the regional level there were significant differences: in Perm JR joined the movement, whereas in Tyumen it chose to distance itself. The same happened with the oldest liberal-democratic party “Yabloko”: its founder Grigorii Yavlinsky claimed that there was a mass fraud and there must be new elections. In Perm “Yabloko” members were among the organizers and speakers of the campaign. In Tyumen “Yabloko” stayed mute. Other pro-democratic organizations like “Solidarnost” and RPR-PARNAS also joined the movement; their members used party symbols as well as national ones like the white stripes (“belaya lenta”). Abstention strategy was indicative for “Patriots of Russia” (PoR), “Right Cause” (RC, Pravoye Delo), and JR and “Yabloko” branches in Tyumen. Some members of aforementioned organizations expressed their support for the FFE movement and even participated in rallies, but on the organizational level, these parties stayed aside. To conclude, we observe that between the cases “Yabloko” and the JR make the difference, being involved in Perm and disengaged in Tyumen. The rest of the parties employed similar strategies: UR and LDPR – A, CPRF – D, RD and PoR – C. There was also an interesting peculiarities concerning CPRF reaction: in Tyumen, communists attempted to head the movement and succeeded, in Perm they were in rearguard from the beginning.


Political context: Regional political competition and Electoral Integrity. The main watershed between Perm and Tyumen lies in the degree of political competition that we measure through the following indicators: the governor’s partisanship, index of ‘democraticness’ developed by the Moscow Carnegie Center (Petrov and Titkov 2011), elite fragmentation (open conflict between the political groups), and control by the UR over the city legislature. Table 4. Regional competition in Tyumen and Perm GovernorIndex of Elite the UR democraticness conflict member Tyumen Yes 32 No Perm No 42 Yes

Control over the city legislature

Control over the regional legislature

Full Partial

Full Partial

Sources: Petrov and Titkov (2011); Central Election Commission (CEC); authors’ data.

Perm is a region with more competitive politics as opposed to Tyumen, while the city of Perm has always been known for its relatively developed civic and political associations in the postSoviet period. According to the index of ‘democraticness’, Perm scores among the five most competitive and open regions in 2011 (Petrov and Titkov 2011). In 2000s the multiple fractures in the elite between the former governor Yuri Trutnev’s team and his successor Oleg Chirkunov, between regional and city power elites, as well as business groups have been accompanied by the development of an autonomous civic and grassroots associations: human rights groups, expert think-tanks, independent media and grassroots initiatives. The human rights groups formed the core of the protest movement by having created a coalitional structure “The 24th December Council” with representatives from CPRF, “Yabloko” and RPR-PARNAS. The JR delegates expressed their support of the movement: an MP from the JR made a public speech at the meeting on December 24th, 2011, in January 2012 the regional office canvassed for the movement and campaigned for the next meeting on February 4th, 2012. In Tyumen, the level of competition is considerably lower: elites are consolidated around the governor, civic organizations are incorporated into the public administration structure, and independent mass media exist only online. The organization core of the movement was the Council of Initiative Groups and Citizens (CIGS) — a highly amorphous coalition of communists, liberals and civic associations, founded in October 2010 during the previous protests against corruption and inefficient budget spending. CPRF and RPR-PARNAS took the lead in this Council and participated in every meeting. Other parties either ignored, or opposed the campaign. Thus, political competition in the Tyumen case affects lesser involvement of the parties with the movement: consolidated political elite and majority of parties opposed the movement (UR, LDPR) or kept neutrality (JR), the rest of parties joined the struggle, but failed to attract strong allies. Perm and Tyumen also differ in terms of the overall electoral integrity. The analysis of the votes’ distribution by turnout demonstrates that in Perm there was less fraud than in Tyumen. Figure 3 in Appendix E shows the joint distribution of the turnout and vote share cast for the winner divided by the number of registered voters. We use this indicator instead the simple incumbent’s vote share, because if the ballot stuffing takes place the vote share increases with the turnout, therefore it is not a reliable measure. Beta-coefficients bigger than one (trend line’s slope is more than 45 degrees) likely indicate that some ballots had been shuffled from one pile into another during the vote count. In Tyumen, the estimated number of stuffed ballots considerably exceeds that one of Perm. At the same time in both regions the presidential elections held with more violations, than the legislative ones. The quality of vote count is better in Perm as opposed to Tyumen. An alternative measure for electoral malpractice is the number of reported violations as per 10

the crowdsourcing project “The Violations Map” (Karta narusheniy) initiated by the NGO “Golos”. On December, 4th, 2011 in Tyumen 41 instances of electoral violations were reported, while in Perm – 96 (Karta narusheniy). This discrepancy rather approximates the level of observers’ activity and accessibility of the polling stations for inspection, than captures a real level of electoral malpractice. Thus, in Perm the level of electoral fraud is lower, but election observers turned out to be more energetic, as well as the overall party participation across the region. In other words, cleaner elections lead to more protests and party involvement. The relative liberalization signals that the use of repression towards the protesters is unlikely; therefore, the problem of collective action and coordination is solved easier. The more voters perceive a decrease in electoral integrity, as reported by the crowdsourcing projects, encourages an overall mobilisation in the region. At the same time, the real electoral integrity does not directly lead to the scale of protests and parties’ strategies. The very opportunity to observe the elections stems from the more competitive and tolerant political climate in the region, while the number of reports measures something else, but not the electoral fraud per se. To conclude, the perceived level of fraud renders stronger mobilizing potential, rather objective reports. If the regional administration and electoral management bodies fail to control or do not want to “clear” the electoral field beforehand and as a result exclude civic associations and parties from observing elections, this may serve as a signal that there is an opportunity window for the opposition mobilisation. Institutionalization and cooptation in Tyumen and Perm Turning to the mechanisms, party institutionalization constitutes an important premise for a party to be organizationally capable to act in the political arena. On the other hand, the overall level of party development in Russia is low due the parties’ financial dependence on the state resources, blurred programmatic appeals, and weak ties with the civil society (Hale 2005) (see Tables C, D in the Appendix). Nevertheless, as we demonstrate, regional party organizations do considerably differ in terms of infrastructural capacities and resources even given the overall party underinstitutionalization. This variance could induce the differences in parties’ strategies. We calculated the index of party institutionalization for each registered political party in Tyumen and Perm that consists of the four components: roots in the society, autonomy, organization, and coherence (Figure 2). The index varies from 0 to 8 and represents the summation of aforementioned components. The maximum value of 8 stands for the highest level of institutionalization (for coding procedures and values of each index component see Tables C,D in Appendix).


Figure 2. Party Institutionalization: Tyumen and Perm. Source: Authors’ calculations.

The level of party institutionalization in Tyumen and Perm does not dramatically differ, although the Perm branch of “Yabloko” is thrice as more institutionalized as compared to Tyumen. At the same time, the average level of party development in Perm is by 1 point lower due to the factional instability in the legislature (Zakondatel’noe sobraniye). The more institutionalized parties are LDPR and CPRF firstly because of the longer political history, regular participation in elections, financial resources, and representation at the federal and regional levels. The UR despite its status of “party of power” and dominant political positions does not score the best in terms of institutionalization. The UR has shorter political experience and weaker connections with independent civic organizations if not taking into account the youth branch (Molodaya gvardiya), trade unions, and People’s Front (ONF)4.Communists who took up the role of the main opponent to the “party of power”, directly inherited the CPSU and enjoy the stable support from its core constituencies: ideologically motivated activists, wide network of local offices, and relatively independent leaders. In the 2011 elections communists successfully converted the protest moods into votes. In Perm CPRF improved its result from by 11.5 percentage points, in Tyumen – by 4.7 percentage points. Similarly to LDPR: regional offices have developed net of local offices, recruit influential sponsors, support connections with non-political associations, and regularly renew its regional leadership. “The Just Russia”, vice versa, enjoying considerable financial resources, are less rooted in a local communities and, thus, have fewer organizational capacity. The PoR, the RC (did not exist in Perm) and “Yabloko” run in the regional elections, but failed to pass the threshold. The Tyumen the liberal-democratic wing is pushed out to the political periphery. Tyumen’s “Yabloko” almost stopped its activity after its electoral fiasco in 2003 when it obtained merely 2.3% of votes. The Perm “Yabloko” found itself in a slightly better position, because it succeeded to remain visible in city’s political life, despite the acute lack of resources. The PoR and the RC act as political spoilers both at the national and regional levels (Golosov 2011). While the PR’s activity is hardly noticeable at the regional level (in Tyumen’s case regional office bases in Nizhnevartovsk5), the RC underwent with a series of scandals and cadre crisis that resulted in a de facto party’s closure. Our hypothesis suggests that the more institutionalized parties more actively react to the ONF is a handpicked ‘umbrella’ organization founded in 2011 as an electoral vehicle before the electoral campaign 2011-12. 5 A city in Khanty-Mansiyskii Autonomous District (okrug), 900 km North to Tyumen. 4


protest movement, by either supporting or counter mobilizing. Hence, we expected CPRF, LDPR, UR and JR to react to the FFE movement and “Yabloko” (particularly in Tyumen), PR and RC are not expected to play any visible role. As a result, this model explains the supporting role of CPRF and counter mobilisation of the UR, as well as the active role of the Perm “Yabloko” and passiveness of the its Tyumen office. On the other hand, the responses to the protests by LDPR and JR remain unexplained: LDPR mostly refrained from any sort of activities and only for a short period were opposing the movement (A/C). The Perm office of the JR is less institutionalized than that of Tyumen, however, joined the meetings having neglected the JR leader Sergey Mironov’s position that this is not “his game” and he does not support the movement “For Fair Elections”. Thus, the lack of activity from LDPR and JR in Tyumen “fall out” the general logic of this model. O. Reuter and G. Robertson have tested cooptation by means of large-N analysis that confirmed the link between the number of power positions in the regional legislature for CPRF and intensity of protests (2013). Following the same logic, we also assume that co-opted party organizations would have fewer incentives to opt for a strategy B. Indicators of cooptation of parties and separate party members from Table 3 clearly demonstrate the particular status of the UR as it is an instrument of cooptation per se both at the national and regional levels. In both legislatures the UR obtained the largest share of seats, although this in Perm is somewhat smaller, than in Tyumen (53% and 79% accordingly). Table 3. Party Cooptation: Tyumen and Perm. Party

% of seats in State Duma in 2011




12. 7


8.9Tyumen 10.42



RC PR Yabloko

0 0

% of seats in regional legislature in 2011 Tyumen 79.2 Perm 53.3 Tyumen 6.25 Perm 5 Tyumen: Vicespeaker of the Duma Думы (V. Sysoev) Perm 8.33 Tyumen 4.17 -

Number of key positions in legislature

Degree of cooptation

Тyumen: 4/5 Perm: 1/3 Medium

High Medium Low Low



A-C Perm: Vice-speaker (S. Mitrofanov) Perm: vice-speaker (L. Shiryaeva) -

Medium Medium Medium

C (Тyumen)

Medium Low Low

C C C (Тyumen) C (Perm)

B (Perm)

Sources: Central Election Commission (CEC); authors’ data.

There is more cooptation in Perm than in Tyumen in terms of seats and personal inclusion (two vice-speakers are non-UR members). A representative of LDPR received the similar position in Tyumen, but largely due to his personal connections with the governor, rather his partisanship. Remarkably, none of the opposition parties obtained committee chairmanship. The degree of cooptation does a good job in explaining party’s strategies: the UR and LDPR were the most coopted hence either opposed to or abstained from the movement, KPRF as a not sufficiently coopted actor supported the protest. The JR makes a particularly interesting case as its strategies have diverged at the regional level despite the similar degree of cooptation. In Tyumen, the party served as an additional channel for cooptation of mandates for the governor’s allies. The same is applicable to the Perm 13

branch, where the parties even obtained a position of vice-speaker. Besides, the cases of Tyumen’s “Yabloko” and partly PR and RC deviate from this logic. All of them are weakly included into the regional power, but remained mute during the protest campaign. As long as these parties are weakly institutionalized and two of them are known for being ‘spoilers’, the previous mechanism of institutionalization may account for this unexplained part of the variation.

Conclusion Most scholars tend to view Russian parties as insignificant actors in mass politics. At the same time, as our research shows, parties employ different strategies regarding social movements and civic campaigns, established organizations do react and interplay with the movements. We even found that parties employ different strategies on the sub-national level conditional by the level of institutionalization and cooperation. The “Just Russia” and “Yabloko” are very illustrative in this regard: while active in Perm, They remained silent in Tyumen during the FFE campaign. Other important conclusion is that there is no single mechanism explaining the whole set of party choices. Thus, we have to consider them in a combination. Electoral integrity and the level of political competition depict the overall “climate” in region, rather than works as a causal mechanism: in highly competitive regimes incumbent is less inclined to use pre-electoral repression and falsifications, which leads to wider opportunity for the opposition mobilisation (Perm case). Electoral integrity's role in party choice is more ambiguous and requires further elaboration. Institutionalization works as a mechanism switching the choice between engagement and inactivity, whereas cooptation explains better the “support/ counteract” ramification. Institutionalization combined with the level of competition helps understand the overall degree of party’s involvement. Having entrenched party branches and high level of competition (Perm) lead to wide (but not necessary intense) party mobilisation: 5 out of 7 organizations in Perm interplayed with the movement in contrast to 3 out of 7 in Tyumen. The co-opted parties were against (UR) and/or distant (LDPR, JR in Tyumen), the not co-opted joined the protesters (CPRF, “Yabloko” in Perm). Table 5. Mechanism of the strategy choice. Institutionalization/ Cooptation Low Low Disengaged High Support

High Counteract

Why and when parties react to popular movements in electoral authoritarianism? For highly institutionalized and co-opted parties popular movement is a challenge, which has to be addressed in order to maintain their position. For highly institutionalized and not co-opted, joining the movement means gaining a new advantage over the dominant players. For low-institutionalized and not co-opted parties - wide campaigns is the rare chance to show up and attract new members and resources. The empty slot is for the low-institutionalized and co-opted, with the “Right Cause” as a candidate. Some counterintuitive conclusions include the contradictory role of political parties in movements: on the one hand, parties subordinate to the state's interests, whereas in the reality they employed different strategies. Party organizations played an important role in regions providing participants with infrastructural support and expertise, operating as social movement 14

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Acknowledgments We thank participants of ”(Dis)Satisfaction with Democracy and Citizens’ Involvement in Post-Communist Europe” workshop in CBEES Södertörn University for comments and questions, Seghiu Gergina for valuable help with article and Igor Skulkin for the data on electoral forensics.

AUTHORS Lobanova Olesya, Ph.D. student, Perm State National Research University, Junior Research Fellow, Russian Academy of Sciences. [email protected] Semenov Andrey, Senior Researcher, Center for Comparative History and Politics Studies, Perm, Perm State National Research University [email protected]. Zavadskaya Margarita, Ph.D. Candidate, European University Institute, Florence, Research Fellow, Center for Comparative History and Politics Studies, Perm State National Research University [email protected].


Appendix Table A. Basic socio-economic indicators: Perm and Tyumen region population

Average monthly wage (real prices), RUR

Number of extractive enterprises

Manufacturing activity

Fixed capital investment (in real process) mln RUR

GRP 2011







319 149.5







522 064.8

Source: Rosstat Table B. IIP Code Book (adapted from Basedau and Stroh 2008: 26-27) Dimension Roots in Society


No. RIS.1

Criteria High party age (relative to 1991)

Indicators/Operationalization Party age is in yeas as percentage of period in years of the beginning of multipartyism


Pre-democratic existence

Has the party existed before 1991?


Steady electoral support at the regional level

Arithmetic mean of absolute values of losses/gains



Links to civil society organizations

Qualitative expert assessment; parties’ websites


Alternations in party leadership at the regional level Steady electoral support after alternation in party leadership Decisional autonomy

Existence. number. and organizational quality of links to civil society organizations (no party youth wings and women’s leagues) Number of alternations since founding

Quantitative assessment

0=none 1=1 2=2 and more

Constructed similar to RIS.3

Election CIKRF

-1=>50% 0=50-20% 1=10-20% 2=0% 0=50-90% 1=50-90% 2=>90% 0=none 1=few 2=numerous

0=party depends on an influential individual or outside group 1=partially dependent or opaque 2=largely dependent 0=weak 1=intermediate 2=strong

0=sporadic or no



Coherence at the regional level

media; parties’ websites

The party has considerable material and personal resources such as employees. offices. and funds (assessment irrespective of state party-funding provisions) The party’s presence and activities are not confined to times of election campaigns.

Qualitative assessment


Material personal resources


Beyond electoral activities


Coherence of parliamentary group (no defections or floorcrossing)

There were no defections from parliamentary group

Qualitative assessment; local mass media


Moderate relations intraparty groupings

No splits; moderate factionalism

Qualitative assessment; local mass media

The party leadership tolerates partial deviations from the party line without resorting to verbal intransigence. threats. or expulsion of dissidents

Qualitative assessment; local mass media


Tolerance intraparty dissidence


and conducted regularly.



Qualitative expert assessment

party congresses 1=considerable constraints on regularity 2=regularly held party congresses 0=few material resources 1=some 2=many 0=very little or no presence 1=partial presence 2=constant presence 0=many/high share of defections 1=some defections 2=only insignificant or no defections 0=split(s) 1=infighting without split 2=moderate or no factionalism 0=expulsion 1=verbal intransigence & threats by party leadership 2=freedom of expression


Table C. Party Institutionalization in Tyumen Dimensions

Roots in Society


Level of Organization


Criteria UR High party age (relative 2001 to independence) 1 Pre-democratic existence? 0 Steady electoral -11.4% support 1 Subtotal Alternations in party Leadership Steady electoral support after alternation in party leadership Decisional autonomy Subtotal Strength of membership Regular party congresses Material and personal Resources activities beyond election camp. Subtotal Coherence of parliamentary group (no defections or floorcrossing) Moderate relations of intraparty groupings (no dysfunctional factionalism) Subtotal Total

CPRF 1993 2 yes 1 +4.7% 2

LDPR 1994 2 0 +7.4% 2

JR 2006 0 0 +1.4% 2 0.7 0

RC 2008 0 0 n/a (0.97% in 2011) 0 0

PR 2005 0 0 n/a (1.45% in 2011) 0 1

Yabloko 1999 2 0 n/a (did not run in 2007. 2011) 0.7 1

0.7 1

1.7 1

1.3 2








1 0.7 1

1 0.7 1

1 1 1

1 0.3 1

0 0 0

0 0.3 0

0 0.3 0






















1.75 2

1.75 2

1.5 2

1.25 2

0.5 na

0 Na

0 0








2 5.15

1.5 5.65

2 5.8

2 4.25

0 0.5

0 0.3

0 1


Table D. Party Institutionalization in Perm Dimensions Criteria High party age (relative to independence) 0=
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