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Book Talk | Elections, Protest, and Authoritarian Regime Stability: Russia 2008–2020

Date & Time

Sep. 20, 2021
2:00pm – 3:00pm ET




In her latest book, Regina Smyth examines how electoral competition matters to the Putin regime, and how that competition leaves the regime more vulnerable to opposition challenges than is perceived in the West. Using original data and analysis, Smyth demonstrates how even weak political opposition can force autocratic incumbents to rethink strategy and find compromises in order to win elections. Smyth explains the tactics used to create regime-friendly majorities, including disinformation, symbolic politics, social benefits, repression, and falsification. During her book talk, she explained the stresses and challenges of maintaining an electoral authoritarian regime, and how seemingly stable authoritarian systems can fall quickly to popular challenges even when the opposition is weak. She explained how these challenges fit in the context of the state’s brutal repression of opposition forces in the 2021 elections and in the aftermath of these elections, scheduled for September 17.

Selected Quotes

"The Navalny smart vote strategy was a very clever political strategy of identifying for voters the candidate in many districts, not all, where there was a viable candidate who had the best chance of challenging United Russia." 

"This is not 2016 where the kremlin was able to manufacture 70% support with 70% turnout. This is an election where there are wide variations in regional vote totals where the communists win some elections and where the electoral fultinates the same regions that have been overproducing both turnout and support for the regime since the Yeltsin period are driving a good 6-7% of national level vote totals in the PR race. This is how Putin’s support gets amplified."

Hosted By

Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute is the premier US center for advanced research on Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, the South Caucasus, and the surrounding region though research and exchange.  Read more

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