ELECTORAL FIELD IN RUSSIAN REGIONS
(THE KRASNODAR TERRITORY STUDY-CASE)
Andrey Baranov, D.Sc. (Hist.), professor, Department of Political Science and Political Management, Kuban State University (Krasnodar, Russian Federation)
It is harder to sort out electoral preferences in Russia’s regions than in the state as a whole because of its patchy territorial structure. Russia is a multi-structural state that A. Lijphart prefers to call “multi-layer” and A. Ahieser, a “split” society. The political entities are different in different parts ranging from traditionally oriented ethnic movements to the business elites involved in globalization innovations. Civil society is just being formed; its institutions have to cover a long road abounding in pitfalls and leading to their legal, mental, and organizational formation. Stagnation and even degradation of democracy’s “points of growth” frequently occur because political forms ill adapted to our “soil” are planted for purely superficial and demonstrative reasons. This accounts for different speeds and different directions of the post-Soviet changes in the regions. The factors affecting the electoral fields in the regions (political parties and associations included) are still little studied, though their analysis is badly needed. The Krasnodar Territory, one of the densely populated and geopolitically most important regions, is of special interest in this respect. In the 1990s, the local political community demonstrated traditionalist and etatist preferences of the majority with seats of liberal modernism typical of the country as a whole.1
Here I have attempted to check the hypothesis about the structure of the electoral field of Kuban, one of the most important parts of the Northern Caucasus; to identify the degree and nature of influence of the political parties and associations on its electoral field; to substantiate my classification and aggregation of the units of analysis (parties and associations); to identify areas of influence of the major actors of the electoral process; to compare electoral cycles within 1990-2001 in the territory, and recommend how to form constituencies in future.
The process of party development as one of the signs of civil society was unfolding in relatively unfavorable conditions there. Urban dwellers comprise merely 54 percent of the total population while the countryside traditionally rejects party fragmentation—this is clearly expressed by the position of the influential Cossack movement. Intellectuals are few and are scattered among the largest cities. In Soviet times the C.P.S.U. was relatively stronger there than in the neighboring regions; there is a lot of “nostalgic” sentiments in the area. On the average the people there are older than in other regions, which explains the weak positions of the new parties and the fact that they are mainly supported by urban dwellers. According to E. Belokurova’s typology, the Kuban variant of party development can be described as state-corporate rather than liberal-corporate or partner one.2
At the first stage pre-party conglomerates—associations based on political clubs and support groups formed during election campaigns (The Democratic Movement of Kuban, the Territorial Branch of the Memorial Society, etc.)—appeared. Found in large cities they never exceeded the intellectuals’ subculture. The national-conservative wing opted for “asymmetrical” forms of power struggle: it lobbied its interests in the C.P.S.U. structures and created the Kuban Cossack Rada in 1990. Those who supported the local patriots were mainly promoting local ideas: revival of the Cossack community, formation of a republic inside the R.S.F.S.R. One can say that the two main flanks of the political specter split the territory’s sociocultural expanse.3
At the second stage of political evolution spontaneous civil initiatives identified themselves with the fast-changing federal political specter. According to a poll conducted in 1994 by a group of sociologists under A. Zhdanovskiy, 85 percent of those who supported the right center lived in cities; 70 percent of them were between 31 to 50 years old; 67 percent had secondary specialized or higher education.4
Kuban was the first among Russia’s regions to demonstrate absenteeism: people had become disillusioned with the hastily conducted reforms. The parties’ inadequate financial and ideological foundations created a paternalist “alternative” form of political organization—the “party of power.” In 1992-1994, it was the Civil Union of Kuban and the Kuban Bloc headed by Governor N. Yegorov, a moderate liberal. In 1994, when the national-conservatives won the elections to the local Legislative Assembly, the Otechestvo Bloc headed by Nikolay Kondratenko assumed these functions. By 1994, 81 percent of those who supported moderate reforms were middle-aged people; 50 percent of them had higher education. Those who voted for the Kondratenko bloc lived in the countryside; 50 percent of them were engaged in physical labor; 20 percent had higher education; 66 percent were between 31 and 50, and 20 percent were over 50.5
Since late 1994 the left radical wing of Otechestvo has been dominating the territorial representative bodies of power; since late 1996, the local executive structures. Organizationally, the bloc is arranged according to the “democratic centralism” principle with cells in all settlements; ideologically, the bloc relies on communist and national-conservative slogans; financially, it relies on the local and regional budgets and support of the “ideologically kindred” or interested businesses.
The years between 1994 and 1999 are especially interesting for those who study party developments in Kuban. By 1994, the democratic organizations of the “first wave” had been in crisis; Kondratenko’s advent to power in late 1996 with 82 percent of votes of those who came to the polls forced the democrats to coordinate their actions and take into account their small numbers. Today the right center tends to support the Union of Right Forces (URF) since the Yabloko is relatively weak and inclined to cooperate with regional authorities.
The territory administration has set up a system of structures controlled from above: young pioneers, youth organization (the Youth Patriotic Union), veterans, and other movements. The only Cossack organization registered in the territory with the right to serve the state is the Kuban Cossack Troops headed by Ataman V. Gromov. The movements that insisted on democracy and the market were gradually pushed to the political margins. Significantly, in 1999 the territorial administration described as extremist even the Otechestvo-vsia Rossia electoral bloc (an undoubtedly mainstream organization).6 Today there is a trend toward coordination among the local democratic movements within the Krasnodar Club of Civil Education that has been functioning since 19957 as well as on the basis of their involvement in the Civil Forum. Late in 2000 when A. Tkachev became governor, the regional ruling circles elected to be more pragmatic and less ideological. This was a qualitatively new trend. Today much is said about “reasonable approaches,” “general benefit,” common interests of Kuban and the rest of Russia. The newly formed Southern Federal Okrug eased tension and confrontation between the paternalist and democratic subcultures in the region; the conflicts were moved to the intra-systemic level.
Kuban is a multi-ethnic area with seats of potential conflicts; in fact, the ethnic communities are moving further apart where their ideas of the world, the social status and the standard of living are concerned. This can potentially divide the region into ethnic groups and movements, something that has already happened elsewhere in the South.8 E. Morozova has pointed out that in the countryside ethnic affiliation is much more important than party membership.9 A group of researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology, headed by N. Tutsenko, found out that by early 2000 deprivation of civil rights and freedoms could arouse indignation among 22.9 percent of those who lived in Krasnodar; a peace with the Chechen separatists could arouse indignation among 47.6 percent of them.10 This shows that the Kuban dwellers are following traditional criteria and are moving toward civil society, the two trends being intricately intertwined.
This article uses results of sociological polls, electoral statistics, geographic maps, and the press. I have selected the following election campaigns: the 1991 referendum on the future of the U.S.S.R.; the presidential elections of 1991, 1996, and 2000; the parliamentary elections of 1993, 1995, and 1999; elections of the head of the Krasnodar Territory of 1996 and 2000; elections to the Legislative Assembly of 1994 and 1998.
Students of the electoral cycles in Russia face the problem of how to compare the rapidly emerging, changing and disappearing electoral groups. For example, only Aman Tuleev and Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, two marginal figures, found their way to the ballot papers of 2000 out of the 1991 presidential ballots. Any comparison of the 1991-2000 election campaigns is possible only on the basis of aggregated units of study. I suggest that the actors should be classified as “national-conservators,” “liberals,” “the centrist party of power,” “left center,” and “communists.” This will allow us to move away from details and concentrate on really important political preferences.
At the same time, certain units of analysis and personal voting motives are varied to the extent that the parliamentarian, presidential, and regional campaigns should be studied separately. It is very hard to explain voting preferences in the presidential elections (Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin) from the point of view of ideology as well as voting for territorial heads (Kondratenko and Tkachev). This is perfectly explained by the fact that the Kuban voters have chaotic, illusory or even unreal ideas about the political actors’ ideological affiliations. M. Kirichenko’s sociological polls demonstrated that the public personifies political parties and movements and identifies them with their heads’ images. The “masks” created by political adverts quite often have nothing in common with the real people; they are leading an independent “virtual life.” For example, the present Governor Tkachev is much closer to the liberal and market ideas than the image of “an heir to ‘father’ Kondratenko” he himself is promoting. It should be added that the majority takes local elections as a means to shift their own everyday problems onto the shoulders of “good managers” well versed in the local problems. People go to the polls during all-Russia elections for different reasons: they take a chance to alter the general political course and express their attitude to the major problems. There is a dual attitude to the federal power structures: they are seen as the supreme body in the state and as an alien bureaucratic force in relation to the region.
Voting at the Elections to the State Duma in the Krasnodar Territory (% of the turn-out)
|Turn-out (% of the total number of voters)
|The share of groups and parties that got over 5 percent of the votes
I In 1993—Liberal Democrats; in 1995—Russian Communities Congress (6.6 percent), Liberal-Democrats (15.2 percent). In 1999—Liberal Democrats.
II In 1993—Yabloko (9.5 percent), Vybor Rossii (Russia’s Choice) (11.8 percent), and the Democratic Party of Russia (5.6 percent). In 1995 –Yabloko. In 1999 –Yabloko (4.6 percent) and the Union of Right Forces (6.1 percent).
III In 1993—the Party of Russian Unity and Consent. In 1995—Nash dom–Rossia (Russia Is Our Home). In 1999—Edinstvo (Unity) (27.8 percent) and Otechestvo-vsia Rossia (Homeland – All Russia) (4.99 percent).
IV In 1993—the Agrarian Party of Russia.
V In 1993 and 1999—the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In 1995—the CPRF (24.5 percent) and the radical communist blocs (6.2 percent).
These figures testify to the fact that the voters were sharply divided (from 65.7 to 90.7 percent of them voted for large parties); that the turn-out was permanently high (from 56.7 to 60.2 percent), and that the electorate drifted to the center and left. The 1999 success of the centrists is explained by their use of nationalist-etatist slogans, which means that the Edinstvo bloc deprived the Liberal Democrats, the Russian Communities Congress, and the CPRF of a large share of followers. In 1999, liberal electorate increased at the expense of former Yabloko supporters who voted for the URF. The left center still has no popular basis, which explains why the Otechestvo-vsia Rossia bloc failed.
The results of the presidential campaigns of the 1990s make it possible to follow public opinion shifts: the much larger turn-out at the presidential elections as compared with the parliamentary ones shows that the local people are convinced of the former being more important than the latter. In 1991, the turn-out at the presidential elections was 72.1 percent; in 1996, 67.3 percent in the first round; in 2000, 66.3 percent. The level of support for the incumbent president ranged from 45.1 percent in 1991 to 26.6 percent in 1996 (first round) for Yeltsin and 51.5 percent in 2000 for Putin. Communists were the main rivals of the “party of power”: Ryzhkov in 1991 (24 percent); Ziuganov in 1996 (39.9 percent in the first round and 51.5 percent in the second round; in 2000, 37.4 percent).12 When compared the results of the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections and the 1999 parliamentary elections show that the communists have reached the maximal level of their influence in the region (from 37 to 40 percent). Any further growth can be achieved only at the expense of the national-conservative and centrist electorate. Strong rivals and the inflexible communist ideology make this improbable.
The regional elections of the 1990s differed from the federal elections by the lower turn-out: only 48 percent came to the polls during the 1996 elections of the governor; the turn-out in 2000 was even lower—46.3 percent; in 1998, merely 38.9 percent came to polls to cast votes for the territorial Legislative Assembly. Otechestvo (Kondratenko) which united national-conservatives and communists invariably won the elections with 78 to 82 percent of the votes13—a much more impressive majority than the CPRF rating.
What is behind these figures? First, the stable economic and sociocultural image of the local community. Kuban is an agricultural area where only 54 percent live in towns and cities (those living in small towns remain closely connected with agriculture). The majority of urban dwellers (they are mostly the first generation living in cities) are still peasants at heart. They are still closely connected with the countryside. Some authors used historical and contemporary materials to identify specific features of the regional political culture such as dedication to traditions (higher than Russia’s average), corporate and religious feelings.14 For the local people ethnic affiliation means much more than for people living in large cities and the capitals. This is superimposed on the community’s subjective readiness to embrace market economy. The result is a businessman-patriot who wants a national popular capitalism. In mass consciousness the image stands opposed to a collective image of a “Moscow cosmopolitan financier,” a vehicle of foreign interests.
Second, the Otechestvo bloc did well because of certain short-term factors: weak liberal-oriented NGOs and groups of interest; an absence of a developed market of independent media (on the regional and even more so local level); weak and poorly organized ideological and promotional activities of rival parties. In fact, nobody could compete with Kondratenko when it came to using personal charisma and exploitation of the dominant regional cultural values. Outside this paradigm the rivals could count on the votes of poorly organized and less numerous “radical-democratic” subculture (in ports and resorts, the capital of the territory, etc.).
At the same time, the social basis of Otechestvo (Kondratenko) is internally contradictory where its basic values, the reasons for its political choice, and pragmatic interests are concerned. I am convinced that the results of the first years of Tkachev as governor (from late 2000 to the end of 2002) confirm this. The communists, national-conservatives, and pragmatic technocrats that together supported the regional “party of power” are prepared to part company; the trend is partly encouraged by the federal political entities. In 2002, at the elections to the local legislative assembly the “party of power” received 54 percent instead of previous 86 percent.
The results of voting by party lists at the 1999 elections to the State Duma produce food for thought. The territorial election commission calculated the results by the administrative districts and constituencies; this makes it possible to compare identical territorial units.
In 1999, the Krasnodar Territory had seven constituencies with a total number of voters of 3,848,667 people (on the average 549,838 per constituency). The number of the registered voters differed from 512,800 in Krasnodar constituency to 572,200 in the Tuapse constituency. This happened because under the law the constituencies should coincide with administrative units; the borders of the constituencies were sometimes changed to fit party interests. Krasnodar voters are more inclined to support liberal and centrist politicians than people in the countryside. For example, in Krasnodar the CPRF got from 29.5 to 31.5 percent of the votes while in the villages it collected from 37.4 to 42.9 percent.15 The same can be said about the Tuapse and Novorossiisk constituencies: the CPRF got a large share of votes because the Slaviansk, Apsheronsk, Belorechensk, and Goriachiy Kliuch districts with the predominant peasant and Cossack population were artificially included in them.
The 1999 election results allow me to identify the areas where the leaders (the CPRF, Edinstvo, the URF, Yabloko, and the Liberal Democrats) enjoyed greatest influence. They got the sum total of 85 percent of the votes.
The Communist Party of the RF that got 36.8 percent of the votes was an unquestionable leader. It enjoys the greatest influence in the countryside (58.1 percent in the Belaia Glina District and 19 percent in Novorossiisk); the Communist Party is much more popular in the former Kuban Region than in the former Black Sea Governorship with the cosmopolitan minded population eager to embrace values common across Russia. However, the Communist Party is relatively less popular in the village areas stretching along busy trade routes or having large industrial centers (in the Novokubansk District it got 31.8 percent of the votes; in the Belorechensk District, 34 percent; in the Tuapse countryside area, 34.8 percent). It dominates in the little developed areas that are no doing well: Belaia Glina (58.1 percent); Kalininskaia (54.5 percent); Shcherbinovskaia (50.5 percent).16
Edinstvo created not long before the 1999 elections could not count on its leaders’ popularity, which means that its 27.8 percent of the votes was a result of organizational efforts and federal promotion campaign. The figures ranged from 17.9 percent of the votes in the Kalininskaia District to 44.8 percent in the city of Tuapse. Its electoral basis is more or less evenly spread across the territory but it is much weaker than that of the communists. Edinstvo rated much better in small and medium-sized towns plagued by ethnic problems than in cosmopolitan Krasnodar (from 24.7 to 27.8 percent) and Sochi (from 21.1 to 28.4 percent). In Novorossiisk the bloc received from 37.7 to 40.6 percent in four districts.17
The Otechestvo-vsia Rossia Party, the main flop of the election campaign, got meager 4.99 percent. The voters obviously took it for a vaguely moderate opposition the place of which had been already taken by Edinstvo. The Otechestvo-vsia Rossiia electoral basis is too narrow: it is found in Krasnodar (from 6.7 to 8.3 percent) and Sochi (from 6.6 to 12.3 percent in four districts) mainly because of the mayors’ position. In the countryside the party never collected 5 percent while in 28 districts it could not manage even 4 percent.18
The radical-nationalist electorate was spread among the outsiders. The Liberal Democrats alone managed to preserve part of its former influence (4.8 percent across the territory). Its supporters are found in all areas (from 4 to 5.5 percent), yet it has to compete with the Communist Party quite popular there. Edinstvo was no rival for the Liberal Democrats that reaped the larger part of the votes in Eisk (6.2 percent), Anapa (5.9 percent), the Adler District (5.2 percent), the Primorskiy (7.5 percent) and Vostochniy (9.3 percent) districts of Novorossiisk; the largest number of its supporters lived in the Abinsk District (15 percent). All of the above are densely populated urbanized localities where ethnic tension was great.19
In 1999, the liberal part of the party specter was represented by the URF and Yabloko. Their voters live in large cities. On the whole the URF got 6.05 percent across the territory. In Krasnodar its share was from 8.4 to 9.5 percent; in Sochi, from 8.6 to 15.5 percent; in the center of Novorossiisk, 8.8 percent. In the countryside its share was never more than 6 percent. In five economically depressive districts (Kushchevskaia, Belaia Glina, Novopokrovskaia, Apsheronsk, and Tikhoretskaia it got less than 3 percent.20
Yabloko with its average 4.6 percent is also supported by urban dwellers. Its influence is the greatest in the city of Kropotkin (12.5 percent) where the mayor is a Yabloko member. In Sochi Yabloko got from 4.5 to 7 percent; in Krasnodar, from 7.3 to 8.8 percent; in 12 countryside districts they enjoy good support (4-5 percent) and even more varied results than of the URF. Yabloko is more popular than the URF in Krasnodar and small towns (such as Anapa and Gelendzhik); Sochi and Novorossiisk obviously preferred the URF. It seems that Yabloko with its social-democratic bias should give more thought to its ideological image.21
One can conclude from the above that the electoral field of the Krasnodar Territory is not uniform and that the electorate is divided between liberalism and communism and cosmopolitism as opposed to nationalism. Liberal values are more cherished in Krasnodar, the Black Sea coastal cities and, to a lesser extent, the district centers of the steppe part of Kuban. The liberal minded area is counterbalanced by the area that prefers communists (villages of the steppe and piedmont parts of Kuban, depressive localities in the first place). The area of centrist minded and moderately patriotic ideas is less clear, therefore in the future it can be extended at the expense of those who are now supporting the liberals and the communists. This has already happened during the 2000 presidential and 2001 governor elections.
Since the territorial distribution of votes in presidential and regional elections differ greatly from that in the parliamentary elections, those of the parties that will manage to tap the regional values and identify themselves with a popular politician will increase their influence. The parties will have to compete for the absentees and those who vote depending on the situation (up to 45 percent). At the same time, to attract the voters with stable political orientations the internally contradictory complex of values and preferences should be carefully analyzed. In the local sociocultural context the democratic and pluralistic choice can be encouraged through actualization of certain values: personal responsibility, successful competition, etc. that should be translated from the traditionalist into liberal regime.
From this it follows that the parties have just started developing in the Kuban area; so far the process is reversible. They emerged at the turn of the 1990s, found their niches on the federal and regional scenes and were deformed by the burden of their own weaknesses and the authoritarian pressure of the regional regime. The countrywide and macro-regional (southern Russia) political factors are becoming more and more clear; in particular the parties are becoming more aggregated (more manageable). It seems that in future the state will retain at least its moderate control over the electoral rivalry. Today, the ideological shell of this model is changing at the regional level: from national conservatism to moderate social conservatism (illustrated by the ideas of Kondratenko and Tkachev).
1 See: V.A. Kolossov, A.D. Krindach, “Tendentsii postsovetskogo razvitia massovogo soznania i politicheskaia kul’tura Iuga Rossii,” Polis, No. 6, 1994.
2 See: E.V. Belokurova, “‘Tretiy sector’ i regional’nye vlasti,” Politicheskaia sotsiologia i sovremennaia rossiiskaia politika, St. Petersburg, 2000, pp. 272-294.
3 See: A.A. Vartumian, Regional’niy aspekt v deiate’nosti novykh politicheskikh partiy Rossii, konets 80-seredina 90-kh gg. (na primere Severo-Kavkazskogo regiona). Synopsis of candidate thesis, Moscow, 1997, pp. 13-15.
4 See: Politicheskaia stsena Kubani: Kto est’kto, ed. by A.M. Zhdanovskiy, Krasnodar, 1995, pp. 7-14.
5 See: Ibid, pp. 7-9, 15-27.
6 See: Kuban segodnia, 27 July, 1999.
7 See: Krasnodarskiy klub grazhdanskogo obrazovania. Dnevnik, 1999, ed. by Ia. Lobastov, Krasnodar, 2000, pp. 20-25.
8 See: S. Markedonov, “Vozmozhno li grazhdanskoe obshchestvo na Kavkaze?” Russkiy zhurnal [http: //www.russ.ru/politics/polemics/20001225_marked.html].
9 See: E.V. Morozova, Regional’naia politicheskaia kul’tura, Krasnodar, 1998, pp. 330-342.
10 See: N.F. Tutsenko, “Chego my zhdem ot novogo prezidenta?” Krasnodarskie izvestia, 11 February, 2000.
11 Sources: V.A. Kolossov, A.D. Krindach, op. cit., p. 133; S.V. Chugrov, “Elektoral’noe povedenie rossiiskikh regionov,” Mirovaia ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnoshenia, No. 6, 1996, pp. 27-39; “Dannye o kolichestve izbirateley i iavke na vybory deputatov Gosudarstvennoy Dumy RF 19 dek. 1999 g.,” Rabochaia tetrad’ “Politicheskiy marketing,” Krasnodar, 2000, Appendix, pp. 1-4.
12 See: V.A. Kolossov, A.D. Krindach, op. cit., pp. 123, 132; A. Yemtseva, “Vybory: Kuban’ v svoem repertuare,” Krasnodarskie izvestia, 22 June, 1996; I. Glazunov et al., “Rossia vybrala prezidentom V.V. Putina,” Vol’naia Kuban’, 28 March, 2000; M. Volkova, “Melkie sensatsii 26 marta,” Nezavisimaia gazeta, 28 March, 2000.
13 See: Kubanskie novosti, 23 December, 1996; 12 December, 1998.
14 See: E.V. Morozova, op. cit., pp. 252-347; M.V. Savva, Etnicheskiy status, Krasnodar, 1999; M.M. Kirichenko, “Kakogo tsveta elektoral’naia karta Kubani?” Chelovek. Soobshchestvo. Upravlenie (Krasnodar), No. 1, 2000, pp. 38-53.
15 See: “Dannye o kolichestve izbirateley i iavke na vybory deputatov Gosudarstvennoy Dumy RF 19 dek. 1999 g.,” Rabochaia tetrad’ “Politicheskiy marketing,” Krasnodar, 2000, Appendix, pp. 1-4.
16 Ibid., pp. 1-2.
17 Ibid., pp. 2-3.
18 Ibid., pp. 3-4.
19 Ibid., pp. 1, 3.
20 Ibid., pp. 2, 4.
21 Ibid., pp. 1, 4.