Patronage and Election Fraud: Insights from Russia’s Governors 2000-2012

Christoph Koenig

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper


Theory and empirics suggest that patronage fosters election fraud. But why does
fraud vary within autocracies where patronage’s incentives to manipulate should be uniformly high? In this paper, I explore whether information asymmetries can explain this phenomenon. I study the introduction of a patronage system which allowed Russia’s president to discretionarily appoint all 89 regional governors. After December 2004, all national elections were organized by governors facing removal but, crucially, only some were actually patronage-appointed with lower need to signal their qualities. I estimate the effect of the reform’s introduction and its staggered implementation on a new and verified regional fraud indicator for 7 national elections from 2000–2012. Results show that patronage increased overall levels of rigging but less so with patronage-appointed, connected governors. Appointments had no effect on actual election results and regional economic performance, which makes reduced uncertainty about governors’ loyalty the most plausible explanation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 2019

Structured keywords

  • ECON Applied Economics


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