The spatial character of Russia’s new democracy

  • Misha Myagkov
  • Peter C. Ordeshook


To date, virtually all research on Russian elections, beginning in 1991, have used tools and methodological approaches akin to voting research from the 1950s and 1960s. Researchers have relied either on public opinion polls that try to tease out correlations between a standard menu of socio-economic characteristics, attitudes about candidates, and self-reports of voting history; or on journalistic assessments of aggregate election returns, coupled with substantive expertise of Russian politics. Here, then, we try to gain an understanding of those elections in more contemporary theoretical terms — in terms of the spatial analysis of elections and voting. Although our analysis relies on a less-than-optimal source of data — election returns aggregated up to the level of individual rayons (countries) — we are able to draw a spatial map of those elections that is not too dissimilar from what others infer using less explicit methodologies. Specifically, we find that throughout the 1991–1996 period, a single issue — reform — has and continues to dominate the electorate’s responses to candidates and parties. On the other hand, we find little evidence of the emergence of “nationalism” as an issue, but conclude that to the extent we can detect this issue in the 1996 presidential contest, one candidate, General Alexander Lebed, did succeed in differentiating himself from other nationalist candidates (most notably, Vladimir Zhirinovski) without abandoning the reformist camp. In general, then, this preliminary analysis suggests that the same tools used elsewhere to uncover the spatial map of elections and the connection between basic and actionable issues (individual level thermometer score rankings of candidates and parties) can be applied to Russia with the promise of coherent, understandable results.


Presidential Election Vote Share Candidate Position Strategic Vote Parliamentary Election 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Boxer, V., McFaul, M. and Ostashev, V. (1996). Elections 1993–1996: Stable and metastable electorates. Working Paper. Moscow: Carnegie Institute.Google Scholar
  2. Cahoon, L., Hinich, M.J. and Ordeshook, P.C. (1978). A statistical multidimensional scaling method based on the spatial theory of voting. In P.C. Wang (Ed.), Graphical representation of multidimensional data. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  3. Dow, J. (1997). A spatial analysis of the 1989 Chilean presidential election. Working Paper, Department of Political Science, University of Missouri at Columbia.Google Scholar
  4. Enelow, J. and Hinich, M.J. (1984). The spatial theory of voting. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Fish, M.S. (1995). The advent of multipartism in Russia, 1993–1995. Post-Soviet Affairs 11: 340–383.Google Scholar
  6. Hinich, M.J. and Munger, M.C. (1994). Ideology and the theory of political choice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  7. Hough, J.F., Davidheiser, E. and Lehmann, S.G. (1996). The 1996 Russian presidential election. Washington DC: The Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  8. Lin, T.M., Chu, Y-h. and Hinich, M.J. (1996). Conflict displacement and regime transition in Taiwan: A spatial analysis. World Politics 48: 453–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. McFaul, M. (1996). Russia between elections: What the 1995 results really mean. Moscow: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Google Scholar
  10. McFaul, M. and Fish, M.S. (1996). Russia between elections. Journal of Democracy 19: 90–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Myagkov, M., Ordeshook, P.C. and Sobyanin, A. (1997). The Russian electorate, 1991–1996. Post Soviet Affairs 13: 30–62.Google Scholar
  12. Myagkov, M. and Sobyanin, A. (1995). Irregularities in the 1993 Russian election. Working Paper. Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  13. Ordeshook, P.C. (1996). Russia’s party system: Is Russian federalism viable? Post-Soviet Affairs 12: 195–217.Google Scholar
  14. Ordeshook, P.C. (1997). The spatial analysis of elections and committees: Four decades of research. In D.C. Mueller (Ed.). Perspectives on public choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Ordeshook, P.C. and Shvetsova, O. (1995). If Madison and Hamilton were merely lucky, what hope is there for Russian federalism? Constitutional Political Economy 6: 107–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Wyman, M., White, S., Miller, B. and Heywood, P. (1995). Public opinion, parties and voters in the December 1993 Russian elections. Europe-Asia Studies 47: 591–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Misha Myagkov
    • 1
  • Peter C. Ordeshook
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Division of Humanities and Social SciencesCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

Personalised recommendations