Shock-Resistant Authoritarianism: Schoolteachers and Infrastructural State Capacity in Putin’s Russia
I use the case of the 2012 presidential election in Russia to reveal a new “infrastructural” mechanism of authoritarian resilience. This mechanism complements the currently dominant explanation of authoritarian resilience focused on material redistribution. I argue that public sector organizations may significantly increase the ability of an autocrat to implement political decisions on the ground. This mechanism can partially explain Vladimir Putin’s strong performance in the 2012 election, during which schoolteachers—who frequently served as members of precinct-level electoral commissions—engaged in agitation and electoral fraud. I find that if the factors contributing to the pressure on teachers were eliminated, Vladimir Putin might not have won the election in the first round.