Ian McAllister and Stephen White,
"Democracy, Political Parties and Party Formation in
Postcommunist Russia," Party Politics , 1
(January, 1995), 49-72.
Postcommunist Russia has yet to see the emergence of a party
system, at least in the accepted western sense of the term.
Although the collection of political parties and groups that
currently exists is best characterized as embryonic, this
seems to have fueled, rather than inhibited, speculation
about the nature of the party system that will eventually
dominate a democratic Russia (see, for example, Kitschelt,
1992; Evans and Whitefield, 1993; Sakwa, 1993; White et al.,
1994b). Nor are such questions merely academic: many
observers have regarded the party system in a country as the
key to understanding political performance, with strong
party systems both contributing to and reflecting a healthy,
stable democracy, and weak party systems indicating an
ineffective or unstable system (Powell, 1982: 74).
Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Attitudes to different political systems (%).
Table 2: Public opinion towards political parties (%).
Table 3: Popular views and intending vote for 20 political
parties and groups(%).
Table 4: Patterns of party support (factor loadings).
Table 5: Intending vote for party groupings.
Table 6: Sources of support for reformist, nationalist and
communist political parties.
The results imply, contrary to Sakwa (1993), that while
stable political parties are some way from emerging, and
notwithstanding the popular skepticism displayed towards the
parties themselves and about the motivations of those who
have established them, an embryonic party system is in the
process of emerging. However, that party system is unlikely
to follow the socio-economic cleavage model proposed by
Kitschelt (1992) since, as we have shown, the divisions are
complex and the possibilities for coalitions and mergers
between the various groupings are considerable. Equally, the
results of this and any other survey-based investigation
should be regarded with an element of caution, given the
difficulty of ensuring an adequate national sample, the
relative novelty of parties as a phenomenon and the
continuing reluctance of Russian respondents to answer
survey questions as straight-forwardly as would be the case
in the West. What does seem clear is that there will be
substantial voter volatility, as Evans and Whitefield (1993)
argue, since none of the groupings can count on any secure
social basis of support, and what bases exist are
ideological in nature. There is, accordingly, much scope for
personalities and events to mobilize voters for short-term