Mass democratic values and democracy in Russia`s regions




democracy, democratic institutions, values, democratic values, political system, regions, comparative studies


Scholars continue to debate why democratic institutions failed to take root in Russia and what has driven the rise of the specific political regime now in place. They have examined the Russian case using each of the major approaches to the study of democratization: political culture, institutional choice, elite dynamics, international influences and others. However, adjudicating between theories while analyzing only Russia is difficult. Placing Russia in comparative perspective remains vital. Subnational comparisons that contrast political developments in Russia’s regions provide a potentially valuable way to depict Russia’s political evolution and benefit from multiple cases. In this article, we assess regional differences in mass political values specifically, what scholars call democratic values. We derive these values with data from nationwide surveys conducted in the mid-1990s and small area estimation techniques. We then examine how these regional values relate to measures of the level of democracy in the regions and to what extent they improve our understanding of cross-regional differences. We show that regional democratic values in Russia do match certain expectations from the comparative literature, for instance, we find that more socioeconomically developed regions have democracy-supportive populaces. Through a multivariate analysis, we show that although stronger democratic values among a region’s residents do, as expected, push the region toward democracy, this tendency was not strong enough to offset other influences. As a result, regions with relatively high levels of democratic values were also the ones that developed more authoritarian political environments from the middle 1990s into the 2000s