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

56 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2020 Last revised: 29 Jun 2020

See all articles by Castaneda Dower

Castaneda Dower

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Andrei Markevich

New Economic School

Date Written: February 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: Communism, Elections, Popular support, Regime Change, Revolution, Russia

JEL Classification: D72, H7, N44, P26

Suggested Citation

Dower, Castaneda and Markevich, Andrei, Democratic Support for the Bolshevik Revolution: An Empirical Investigation of 1917 Constituent Assembly Elections (February 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14391, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3535477

Castaneda Dower (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Andrei Markevich

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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