The article applies and develops Katz and Mair’s ‘cartel party’ thesis to the Russian case. Challenging the accepted characterization of the Russian party system as ‘hegemonic’, the article contends that this underplays the systemic importance of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and its collusion with pro-Kremlin parties in the fields of electoral and party reform. By applying the concepts of cartelization to the Russian case, it appears that the intersection of state and party goes beyond simply the ‘top-down’ establishment of political parties towards a party system in which there is inter-party collusion around a strong state-based regime.
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