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Grigorii V. Golosov, "Russian Political Parties and the 'Bosses': Evidence from the 1994 Provincial Elections in Western Siberia," Party Politics, 3 (January 1997), 5-21.

First Paragraph:
In 1990-92, it was not uncommon to see political parties emerging in the postcommunist democracies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union as weak, fragmented and poor at presenting themselves to the electorates (Millard, 1992: 849), unrepresentative of public interests and generally underdeveloped (Racz, 1991: 130). The underdevelopment of new political parties was explained with reference to such properties of the transitional societies as the absence of stable social cleavages and differentiated bases of interests (e.g. Evans and Whitefield, 1993: 528-31), the lack of civic culture and civic development which could sustain political parties (Jowitt, 1992: 210-15), and the 'anti-party' legacies both of the communist regimes (Ekiert, 1991) and of those proto-oppositions (Lengyel, 1992: 39) and mass political movements (Lewis, 1994a: 399-403) which emerged on the eve of regime change. While many of these explanations apply equally to the entire universe of the cases of postcommunist transitions to democracy, recent developments in the region have demonstrated a substantial variation in the levels of party system development attained by different countries. However difficult and slow, the process of party system formation in several countries of Eastern Europe has resulted in the emergence of relatively stable party systems (see Wightman, 1995). For example, the eight major parties that had contested the 1990 'founding' elections in Hungary jointly polled 92.63 percent of the vote in the 1994 elections. Even in Poland, where the process of party system formation was often viewed as being damaged by an especially unfavourable combination of country-specific factors (see Ekiert, 1992; Taras, 1993), the share of the vote cast in the 1993 elections for the 12 parties that had participated in the 1991 elections was as high as 74.22 percent. In this respect, Russia displays a distinctively different pattern of development. Of the 43 organizations contesting the 1995 elections in the country, only eight could trace their origins directly to the participants in the previous elections of 1993, and they jointly polled only 54.38 percent of the vote. Clearly suggesting that Russian political parties lack the relative organizational stability achieved by their counterparts in East Central Europe, this evidence requires us to identify those factors that may be held accountable for the peculiarities of party system formation in Russia.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Success of candidates to the legislative assemblies in four provinces of Western Siberia by status (%).
Table 2: Success of candidates to the legislative assemblies in four provinces of Western Siberia by party support.
Table 3: Success of candidates to the legislative assemblies in four provinces of Western Siberia by status and party support (%).

Last Paragraph:
The experience of Our Home is Russia suggests that the vast political resources of the 'bosses' are not easily transferable to a regular political organization capable of winning national elections. The overall impact of the observed phenomenon on the process of party system formation in Russia may therefore be evaluated as negative. The electoral strength of the 'bosses' at the local level of Russian politics appears to be too important to be ignored in any explanation of the weakness of the country's political parties, even though many other factors should be taken into account in order to make such an explanation really comprehensive.