Legitimacy and Identity in Russia’s Gubernatorial Elections

James Goode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


How do electoral authoritarian regimes claim popular support? Since Vladimir Putin came to power, Russia watchers have ascribed the regime’s staying power to a combination of cronyism and coercion. Following mass protests of the State Duma elections in December 2011, however, the Kremlin granted a major concession in restoring gubernatorial elections after an eight-­year interlude of presidential appointments. The first gubernatorial elections in October 2012 provide an opportunity to examine the regime’s claims to legitimacy in the wake of the federal elections. This study uses computer-assisted
content analysis of the pro-­regime press during Russia’s gubernatorial campaigns to identify varieties of legitimation strategies used by incumbent governors. The results show an expected consistency with the Kremlin’s narrative of economic growth and stability under Putin in incumbents’ claims to superior management of regional economies. However, interesting variations in treatments of procedural legitimacy and regional identity point to variations in degrees of competitiveness in gubernatorial elections. One also finds that nationalism, which featured so prominently in the 2011–12 federal elections, almost completely disappeared from the gubernatorial campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-82
Number of pages24
JournalRegion: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Russia
  • Elections
  • authoritarianism
  • Legitimacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Legitimacy and Identity in Russia’s Gubernatorial Elections'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this