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SPP 446

Author: Richard Rose and William Mishler
Description: An election in which multiple parties compete will be unfair if the government uses its power to stifle opponents and manipulate the casting and counting of votes. Insofar as fair elections are expected to encourage political support, then unfair elections should lower it. However, it is problematic whether a country's electorate agrees with the assessments of international election observers. Survey data from the 2007 Russian Duma election shows that this is not the case. Russians themselves disagree about whether that election was fairly conducted. Three hypotheses are tested to account for this: partisanship, the performance of the government and individual socio-economic characteristics. The effect of government management of the economy and individual socio-economic characteristics swamp the negative effect of an election's perceived unfairness on pride, trust and support for the political regime. The conclusion identifies multiple conditions in which unfair elections may evolve from being semi-authoritarian to more or less democratic, and those in which unfair elections encourage a tightening of authoritarianism. The former conditions have existed in Ukraine, but not in the Russia of Vladimir Putin.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland