restricted access Centralized but Fragmented: The Regional Dimension of Russia’s “Party of Power”

The key question addressed in this study is: How centralized and consolidated is the Kremlin’s “party of power,” United Russia (UR)? In order to answer this question we provide a detailed analysis of the recruitment of the secretaries of UR’s 83 regional political councils and the patronage ties of the secretaries with their regional governors. A study of the recruitment of regional secretaries provides important insights into: a) the balance of federal and regional forces, and b) the balance of regional elite groups in the recruitment of local party leaders. By analyzing these appointments we can detect which party branches have been captured by regional governors or other influential regional groups. The conclusions of our analysis throw new light on the degree of centralization within UR and the consolidation of the party at the regional level. As we demonstrate, in a number of regions, UR is politically fragmented and regional factions within the party have successfully checked the powers of governors and their ability to exercise control over the appointment of UR regional secretaries.