This is the most exhaustive empirical work on any of the new 'mixed-member' electoral systems of which I am aware, and thus it is an important investigation into an increasingly common breed of electoral system. It provides some of the deepest and most theoretically sound coverage of recent Russian elections in the literature. Moser's is an important book, both on contemporary Russian electoral politics, and on comparative electoral studies.
Can democratization be promoted by “getting the institutions right?” In Unexpected Outcomes, Robert G. Moser offers a compelling analysis of the extent to which institutions can be engineered to promote desired political outcomes. The introduction of democracy in Eastern Europe and the former USSR has enabled scholars to bring new perspectives to the debate about electoral systems. Russia is arguably the most important of the postcommunist states and its mixed electoral system provides an interesting controlled experiment for testing the impact of different electoral systems.
Moser examines the effects of electoral systems on political parties and representation in Russia during the 1990s. Moser’s study is not only a highly original contribution to our understanding of contemporary Russian politics, but also a significant step forward in the comparative study of electoral systems. Through his comprehensive empirical analysis of Russian elections, Moser provides the most detailed examination of a mixed electoral system to date. This system was introduced in Russia to encourage party formation and benefit reformist parties allied with President Yeltsin. However, the effects were contrary to what the creators of the system expected and also defied the most well-established hypotheses in electoral studies. Parties proliferated under both the PR and plurality halves of the election and patterns of women and minority representation ran counter to prevailing theory and international experience.
With an epilogue that updates the study through the December 1999 elections, Unexpected Outcomes makes an important and timely contribution to the ongoing debate over the ability and inability of elites to fashion preferred political outcomes through institutional design.
A sophisticated analysis of Russia's complex electoral system.
Employing a controlled comparision, Moser tests hypotheses concerning the link between electoral and party systems in Russia. . . . In his view, other factors have worked to create a different set of incentives for rational actors. The most significant of these is Russia's weakly institutionalized parties and party system. This excellent study should be included in every serious research library.
. . . he takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the intricate mechanics of the russian electoral politics of the first half of the last decade. The book offers food for thought to scholars across the discipline. . . a good balance of institutional theory, data analysis and substantive immersion and beyond its scholarly value is a good reading for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in comparative politics and East european or Russian studies.
Moser packs a lot of information and interpretation into a short and readable book. ... contains many convincing arguments about electoral system effects in Russia. It is well worth reading for those studying elections and political party development in the postcommunist world. Scholars with an interest in electoral engineering, institutional design, and the impact of electoral systems generally will also find Moser's book extremely useful.
... important contribution to the understanding of voting behavior and party formation in Russia ...
... a compelling analysis of the extent to which institutions ca be engineered to promote desired political outcomes.
"'Unexpected Outcomes' is well researched, and ... refreshingly well written. The book not only contributes to our understanding of contemporary Russian politics but also adds to the neo-institutional research agenda by reminding us, as others have, that context matters. . . .This book is a must for students of postcommunist politics, and would work well in either an advanced undergraduate course or graduate seminar in either postcommunist politics or comparative politics.:
Robert G. Moser (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison) is assistant professor in the department of government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is co-editor of the forthcoming book, Russian Politics: Challenges of Democratization, and his numerous articles on political parties and elections in post-communist states have appeared in World Politics, Comparative Politics, Electoral Studies, and Post-Soviet Affairs. He is currently working on a comparative study of mixed electoral systems in eight countries.