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Release: April 17, 2000

UI hosts conference on Russian election outcomes

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- In December 1999, Russia held elections for its parliament. Just three months later, in March 2000, presidential elections were held. Together these two elections are bringing about a fundamental shift in leadership in the Russian Federation.

The University of Iowa department of political science will host a conference April 24-25 at the Iowa Memorial Union examining these elections. William Reisinger, professor of political science and Vicki Hesli, associate professor of political science, are the primary organizers for the conference, "Russia's Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: An In-depth Assessment of Outcomes and Effects."

Included in the conference will be a free, public forum "Roundtable on the Elections and Their Significance," Monday, April 24, at 3:30 p.m. in the IMU Illinois Room.

Each conference participant will be assessing a particular aspect of the presidential and parliamentary elections. Topics include: the impact of the elections on political party development, the foreign policy implications of the elections, and the effect of the elections on the process of national integration and democratic development in Russia.

The list of guests includes several of the top scholars writing in English on Russian politics today: Sarah Oates (University of Glasgow), Olga Shvetsova (Washington University, St. Louis), Stephen White (University of Glasgow), Timothy Colton (Harvard University), M. Steven Fish (University of California at Berkeley), Thomas Remington (Emory University), Richard Sakwa (University of Kent), and Stephen Hanson (University of Washington).

Several of the conference participants will be presenting new public opinion and electoral data that will receive their first public appearance at this conference.

Conference presentations will shed light on the continuing obstacles and also the prospects associated with building democratic institutions in Russian society today. Visiting scholars will discuss ways in which these elections represent "successful" transitions to democracy or democratic consolidation. In addition, participants will examine what the elections say about voting behavior in Russia -- in particular, the relevance to post-Communist systems of vote choice models developed in the West.

Over the summer the papers from this international group of authors will be edited and ultimately published in a book with the same title as the conference.

Funding is provided by the Benjamin F. Shambaugh Fund of the UI department of political science and the UI Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.