Vote Brokers, Clientelist Appeals, and Voter Turnout in Russia

Ora John Reuter (UW-Milwaukee)
Timothy Frye (Columbia)
David Szakonyi (Columbia)

Abstract: Clientelism is common in the developing world, but little scholarship examines its effectiveness. In this paper, we investigate the effectiveness of various clientelist strategies. In particular, we compare the relative effectiveness of various clientelist brokers—party activists, employers, and local officials—as well as the effectiveness of different types of selective inducements. Using a framing experiment placed on a survey of 4200 Russian citizens in October 2014, we find that respondents are most likely to respond to appeals from employers. Employers have significant levers of influence over their employees, are able to monitor voter behavior, and are engaged in repeated interactions with voters. This makes them effective vote brokers in Russia. We also find that negative inducements (e.g. threats and intimidation) outperform positive inducements (e.g. gifts and rewards).

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