In This Review

Transitional Citizens: Voters and What Influences Them in the New Russia
Transitional Citizens: Voters and What Influences Them in the New Russia
By Timothy J. Colton
Harvard University Press, 2000, 324 pp.

How far has the average Russian come on the road from subject to citizen? In painstakingly careful fashion, Colton studies the results of Russia's first two parliamentary elections and the 1996 presidential election and gives a remarkably refined and systematic answer. It turns out that when multiple-rather than isolated-influences are factored in, Russian voters are already more like their Western counterparts than many observers have thought. Despite the weakness of Russia's party system, for example, voters are heavily influenced by partisan preferences. They also vote by issues, not ethnicity or religion. Although they do respond to personality, it is not as important as Western specialists have assumed. In contrast to the West, however, age counts more than education or income as a determining factor of behavior. Still, Colton acknowledges that whether the Russian voter will be an anchor or an Achilles' heel of democracy depends on institutions and an ethos yet to be constructed.