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Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Democratic Support for the Bolshevik Revolution: An Empirical Investigation of 1917 Constituent Assembly Elections

Author(s): Paul Castaneda Dower and Andrei Markevich

Publication Date: February 2020

Keyword(s): Communism, Elections, Popular support, Regime Change, Revolution and Russia

Programme Area(s): Economic History

Abstract: We analyse the stability of democracy in agrarian societies by exploring cross-district variation in Russian citizens' preferences in 1917 Constituent Assembly elections. After plurality eluded the Bolsheviks, they introduced a dictatorship of the proletariat, which they claimed was necessary until the industrial worker became the median voter. We find that i) proletarians voted pro-Bolshevik; ii) citizens rewarded Bolsheviks for redistributive policies that were antagonistic to the Bolsheviks' long-run development program but were strategically chosen to bolster peasant support; iii) surprisingly, these same policies fuelled proletariat support. The Bolshevik promise of democracy after industrialisation thus already lacked credibility in 1917.

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Bibliographic Reference

Castaneda Dower, P and Markevich, A. 2020. 'Democratic Support for the Bolshevik Revolution: An Empirical Investigation of 1917 Constituent Assembly Elections'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14391