In many autocracies, regime leaders share power with a ruling party, which can help generate popular support and reduce conflict among key elites. Such ruling parties are often called dominant parties. In other regimes, leaders prefer to rule solely through some combination of charisma, patronage, and coercion, rather than sharing power with a dominant party. This book explains why dominant parties emerge in some nondemocratic regimes, but not in others. It offers a novel theory of dominant party emergence that centers on the balance of power between rulers and other elites. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Russia, original data on Russian political elites, and cross-national statistical analysis, the book's findings shed new light on how modern autocracies work and why they break down. The book also provides new insights about the foundations of Vladimir Putin's regime and challenges several myths about the personalization of power under Putin.
Ora John Reuter is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and a Senior Researcher at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow. His articles on elections, authoritarianism, and political economy have appeared in leading social science journals including The Journal of Politics, World Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, and Post-Soviet Affairs.
1. Introduction; 2. A theory of dominant party formation; 3. False starts: the failure of pro-Presidential parties under Yeltsin; 4. The emergence of a dominant party in Russia; 5. United Russia as the dominant party; 6. United Russia and Russia's governors; 7. Economic elites and dominant party affiliation; 8. Dominant party emergence around the world; 9. Conclusion.