Policy Memos

Free but Unfair? The Problems of Electoral Governance in Russia

Policy Memo:


Publication Date:



Democracy, as one political scientist noted, is a political regime in which rulers lose their offices because of electoral defeat. This is not the case in Russia; elections have not become, at least not yet, a mechanism for the transfer of power. No election has resulted in presidential or government turnover, and no change of governmental policy has been a consequence of electoral accountability. This is a striking phenomenon considering the fact that competitive national elections have been occurring in Russia for the past 14 years. Although polls are held regularly, they become irrelevant if they contradict the wishes of those in power. And although parliamentary and presidential elections may be free in terms of citizens having the right to vote and choose, they remain unfair in that candidates are not afforded equal opportunities or fair access to media coverage. [...]


About the author

Distinguished Professor, Political Sciences and Sociology
European University at St. Petersburg; University of Helsinki