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Soviet Elections Revisited: Voter Abstention in Noncompetitive Voting

Rasma Karklins
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 80, No. 2 (Jun., 1986), pp. 449-470
DOI: 10.2307/1958268
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1958268
Page Count: 22
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Soviet Elections Revisited: Voter Abstention in Noncompetitive Voting
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Abstract

This analysis of voters and nonvoters in a large sample of recent emigrants from the Soviet Union shows that nonvoting is correlated with high interest in politics, a critical political outlook, and dissident modes of behavior. Thus, voter abstention in noncompetitive balloting can be hypothesized to constitute a significant political act rather than passivity. Single-party states use single-candidate elections for a variety of purposes, one of these being the psychological reinforcement of unity between regime and subjects. In this context, the only choice left to the dissenting citizen is not to vote at all. In the contemporary Soviet Union, nonvoting is regionally focused on Moscow and Leningrad, and is associated with post-Stalinist generational change. The covert nature of vote evasion and its informal tolerance provide a new perspective on the character of the Soviet system and its political culture.

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