Friday, July 15, 2016

Local Bosses in Ukraine's Elections

On July 17, 2016, Ukraine will hold by-elections for parliamentary seats in seven districts: DEC 23 (Volyn), DEC 27 (Dnipropetrovsk/Dnipro), DEC 85 (Ivano-Frankivsk), DEC 114 (Luhansk), DEC 151 (Poltava), DEC 183 (Kherson), and DEC 206 (Chernihiv). As Brian Mefford notes in his detailed assessment of each race, candidates with business-sector profiles and oligarchic connections are prominent competitors.

In a forthcoming article in Europe-Asia Studies, Fredrik Sjoberg and I address the connection between business-affiliated candidate and allegations of fraud, using data from the 2012 parliamentary elections. We categorize some business sector candidates as potential "bosses," individuals whose profiles render them more likely to benefit from local political machines. In our analysis, we evaluate whether or not higher levels of competition among bosses is associated with more allegations of bribery, intimidation, or campaign violations using crowdsourced observation data.

We find that more bosses in a race is generally associated with more allegations of vote buying. As the figure below shows, higher levels of bribery are also associated with victory by independent candidates. Regional effects are based on comparisons with the East (Donetsk and Luhansk). Relative to the East, all regions have a negative sign (fewer allegations than in Donbas). But, only the coefficients in the contiguous Eastcentral region and Crimea are statistically significant (Eastcentral at .05 and Crimea at .10). The regional effects may be due to variation in the tactics of fraud, or variation in regional reporting.

Selected Coefficients Associated with Vote Buying
Note: The figure shows coefficients and 95% confidence intervals.
The fall of Viktor Yanukovych and disruption of Party of Regions-affiliated networks has not eliminated political machines. The potential impact of local bosses still looms large in Ukraine's elections, especially in single-member district races.