Tag: Parliamentary elections

Accountability in Russia

20121229 Accountability in Russia Image 02

Authors: Ruben Enikolopov and Maria Petrova, NES.

This policy brief summarizes two recent research papers that are related to obstacles to political accountability in modern Russia and potential ways to overcome these obstacles. The first paper provides a rigorous assessment of the extent of electoral fraud in Moscow city during the parliamentary elections held on December 4, 2011. Using random assignment of independent observers, we estimate the actual share of votes for the incumbent United Russia party to be at least 11 percentage points lower than the official count (35.6 percent instead of 46.5 percent). A less rigorous, but more realistic estimate is 21 percentage points. These results suggest that electoral accountability in Russia is limited. The second paper demonstrates that even in an environment with low electoral accountability and limited freedom of media, alternative accountability mechanisms may emerge. In particular, anti-corruption campaigns in social media may affect the valuation of state-controlled companies, so that market forces put a disciplining effect on the managers of SOEs. We study consequences of blog postings of a popular Russian anti-corruption blogger and shareholder activist Alexei Navalny on the stock prices of state-controlled companies. In an event-study analysis, we find a negative effect of company-related blog postings on both daily abnormal returns and within-day 5-minute returns. We use the incidence of distributed denial-of-services (DDoS) attacks to show that the effect is not driven by the endogenous timing of blog postings. We also show that there are long-term effects of certain types of posts on stock returns, trading volume, and volatility. Overall, our evidence implies that blog postings about corruption in state-controlled companies have a negative causal impact on stock performance of these companies.