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

60 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2017 Last revised: 15 Jun 2020

See all articles by Paul Castañeda Dower

Paul Castañeda Dower

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Andrei Markevich

New Economic School

Date Written: June 10, 2020

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.

Keywords: Revolution, Regime change, Popular support, Elections, Communism, Russia

JEL Classification: D72, H7, N44, P26

Suggested Citation

Castañeda Dower, Paul and Markevich, Andrei, Democratic Support for the Bolshevik Revolution: An Empirical Investigation of 1917 Constituent Assembly Elections (June 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3059131 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3059131

Paul Castañeda Dower

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

Madison
Madison, WI 53705

Andrei Markevich (Contact Author)

New Economic School ( email )

100 Novaya Street
Skolkovo
Moscow, 143025
Russia
+79629851892 (Phone)
+74991293722 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://fir.nes.ru/en/people/professors/Pages/amarkevich.aspx

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