Institutional Development and Capacity Enhancement: Russia’s Political System Between Duma Elections of 2011 and 2016

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Next year Russia’s political system is going to enter a crucial phase. On the single voting day on September 18th, 2016, the elections to the State Duma are due to be held. In addition, Russian citizens will cast their ballots for parliamentarians in regional and municipal assemblies, as well as heads of several regions. Undoubtedly, these elections will make a huge impact on the evolution of the Russia internal agenda in the short- term and mid-term perspectives.

The previous legislative elections on December 4th, 2011, followed by an unprecedented wave of mass street protests, pointed to a crisis of the political and electoral practices in Russia. Over the last 4 years the state has placed a particular emphasis upon the restructuring and redefining of the whole system by “dismantling” the system, thus implementing Vladimir Putin’s 2012 electoral manifesto. Contemporarily, it is possible to highlight that the Kremlin has succeeded in shaping a new institutional structure and design of the political system. All quantitative characteristics are underpinned by a higher quality of regulation and democratic procedures.

The analytical paper “Institutional Development and Capacity Enhancement” sheds light on the major parameters of Russia’s political system and the specific characteristics of its electoral model. At the fundamental and operative levels it enables international experts to better comprehend Russia’s internal policy, electoral campaigns, and behavior of political actors and also to anticipate further political developments.

The state of political institutions and practices ahead of the two federal electoral cycles – the 2011 and 2016 State Duma elections – serves as reference points to analyze the political system development. Data provided in this report allows us to carefully consider how institutions have been established and have evolved, as well as to assess openness and competitiveness between the electoral campaigns of 2011 and 2016.

The electoral map, presented in this analytical report, demonstrates the current party system, which has been renewed in the course of 3 or 4 regional electoral cycles. It is worth noting that within just 9 months almost 112 million voters, 74 parties entitled to take part in the elections, independent candidates, observers and mass media will be able to give their own assessment of the new institutional architecture of Russia’s political system.

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