The Russian Federation on December 12, 1993, held its first national election since the collapse of Soviet Communism. The election, to a new, two-chamber parliament, was accompanied by a constitutional referendum. It followed months of wrangling over political and economic reform and a violent showdown in Moscow between President Boris Yeltsin and his opponents. After a bitter campaign in which the government frequently changed the rules of the game, Russians narrowly endorsed Yeltsin's draft constitution, but turned out in large numbers for nationalistic and socialistic opposition parties, leaving Russia's Choice, the party favored by the president, with a small minority of the seats. The contest, with its deeply contradictory results, was a watershed in the evolution of Russia's fledgling democracy.
Growing Pains is a detailed study of the 1993 election and of its implications for Russian development and for the country's relations with the West. Several chapters, relying on comprehensive surveys of the Russian electorate, analyze the election process and how social structure and citizen opinions shaped voter choice. Others examine the campaigns of the major parties, the nature and consequences of electoral rules, and the roles of the mass media. Still others examine the campaign and its outcome at the grassroots in ten regions of Russia, from the western provinces to the Pacific coast, demonstrating the significance of local context and local elites and power structures in Russia's transitional politics.