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  • Cited by 5
  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: October 2009

2 - Television, Voters, and the Development of the “Broadcast Party”


Very few political parties have endured in the young Russian state since the collapse of the Soviet Union and one-party rule. What we can observe over time is an improved ability of those in power to create, market, and win election for political parties and presidential candidates. At times, this task was enormously difficult for the Russian president, as both Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin encountered deep popular discontent with the economic and political problems of the post-Soviet state. Yet evidence ranging from the creation of the Russia's Choice progovernment party in 1993 to the election of Putin as the new president in 2000 suggests that the Kremlin has learned important lessons and improved its ability to use elections to consolidate its political power. Notably, the Yeltsin administration discovered the importance of favorable media treatment, plausible candidates, and crafting campaign statements that appealed to the Russian heartland.

While issues and government performance surely matter to Russian voters, the political fluidity and societal chaos have led to politicians, namely those in the Kremlin, relying more on short-term campaign appeals than on long-term accountability and plausibility for party formation. This chapter will argue that Russian politicians have learned these lessons well, leading to the creation of the “broadcast party,” that is, a political movement that relies heavily on television for its creation and electoral success – albeit not for its survival.