Managing Opposition in a Hybrid Regime: Just Russia and Parastatal Opposition

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Abstract / Description of output

In this article Luke March explores the Russian authorities' efforts to "manage democracy" through the creation of "parties of power." It focuses on the quasi-leftist party Just Russia, one of four parties currently represented in the Russian Duma and the only one that represents a "parastatal" opposition (opposition owned and controlled by the state). The history of Just Russia tells us much about the dynamics of what Andrew Wilson has described as Russia's "virtual politics": the regime must continually organize manageable quasi-opposition parties in order to bolster its democratic credentials and channel real social discontent, yet whenever it does so effectively, it quickly creates a potential political threat that must be neutralized. Just Russia has parallels in other authoritarian party systems, such as Mexico under the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) or Nigeria under Abacha and Babangida; the main difference in contemporary Russia lies in the remarkable skill with which Russian state actors conjure up and promote ersatz parties. Nevertheless, even in Russia, virtual politics may become real politics in the longer term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-527
JournalSlavic Review: Interdisciplinary Quarterly of Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009


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