Articles and book chapters
  • Guns to Butter: Sociotropic Concerns and Foreign Policy Preferences in Russia, Post-Soviet Affairs (2020).

    On the concept of “rally around the flag,” scholars often argue that by invoking the danger of external threats in times of economic hardship, leaders can rally the public around the government in a way that would otherwise be impossible. Alternative streams of literature suggest that a darkening economic reality (“butter”) may weaken the impact of patriotic euphoria (“guns”). I conducted an experimental survey to measure changes in foreign policy preferences among respondents exposed to negative economic primes in Russia. In line with the earlier findings on this topic, my analysis shows that participants who encounter negative economic primes report significantly less support for assertive foreign policy narratives. These results suggest that continuing economic strain may limit the Kremlin’s ability to divert public attention from internal problems through the use of assertive rhetoric.

  • Voice or Exit? Political Corruption and Voting Intentions in Hungary, Democratization (2020).

    How does perceived political corruption affect electoral preferences? Scholarship of Eastern Europe addressed this question primarily through the study of observational data. This study contributes to the existing scholarship by addressing the endogeneity problem and allows to causally interpret effects of perceived corruption on voting intentions. It combines hypotheses tested in earlier studies to investigate the impact of perceived political corruption on different electoral choices. A survey experiment in Hungary shows that exposure to political corruption makes respondents more likely to abstain from voting, less likely to support the incumbent party, and more likely to expect the anti-establishment party to win.

  • Populism and the Decline of Social Democracy (with Sheri Berman), Journal of Democracy, 30:3 (2019), 5-19.

    Across Europe and many other parts of the world, traditional parties of the left seem to be in terminal decline. While there are many reasons for this, we argue that the most important was the left’s shift to the center on economic issues during the late twentieth century. Although this shift made some sense in the short-term, over the long-term it had deleterious, perhaps even fatal, consequences: It watered down the left’s distinctive historical profile; rendered socialist and social-democratic parties unable to take advantage of widespread discontent over the fallout from neoliberal reforms and the 2008 financial crisis; created incentives for parties to emphasize cultural and social rather than economic or class appeals; and undermined the representative nature of democracy. The shift in the left’s economic profile, in short, deserves center stage in any account of its decline. Moreover, this shift and its consequences have been crucial to the rise of a nativist, populist right and to the broader problems facing democracy today in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as other parts of the world.

  • What Factors Contribute to the Aggressive Foreign Policy of Russian Leaders? Problems of Post-Communism, 67:1 (2020), 93-110.

    In this paper I explore the correlates of Russia’s aggressive international policy and demonstrate that rising oil revenues increase the aggressiveness of presidential foreign-policy rhetoric. Using content analysis and machine-learning techniques, I generate a measure of aggressive discourse as the share of anti-Western sentences in Russian presidential speeches delivered between 2000 and 2016. These are analyzed using OLS regression with lagged dependent variables. I conclude that the aggressiveness of foreign-policy rhetoric in Russian presidential speeches positively correlates to oil prices. I also find no support for alternative explanations linking hawkish foreign policy to NATO expansion or domestic legitimacy concerns.

  • “Conservative Turn in Eastern Europe: Political Conservatism in Russia,” Desenvolvimento em Debate, 5:1 (2017), 95-113.

    The existing scholarship that has looked at Russia outside of the Eastern European context has rarely analyzed the important parallels in trends across Russia, Hungary and Poland. The political systems that emerged in these countries combine redistributive economic policies with conservative ideology emphasizing the return to national traditions. In this paper I argue that the reactionary nature of Putin’s regime is part of the same reaction to the processes of political and economic transition in the region driven by societal frustration with the experiences of transition and the loss of great power status.

  • “Religious Affiliation and Individual Economic and Political Attitudes in Ukraine” Culture Matters in Russia—and Everywhere: Backdrop for the Russia-Ukraine Conflict, London: Lexington Books, 2015, 145-162.

    This book pulls together experts in the fields of economics and Russian culture, all participants in the Samuel P. Huntington Memorial Symposium on Culture, Cultural Change and Economic Development, a follow-up to the 1999 Cultural Values and Human Progress Symposium at Harvard University. As the sequel to the 2001 volume Culture Matters, it discusses modernization, economic, and political reforms in Russia and asserts that these reforms can happen through the reframing of cultural values, attitudes, and institutions. My chapter presents the results of a comparative analysis of political and economic perceptions of religious groups in Ukraine on the World Values Survey data. I find that Catholics show significantly higher levels of positive attitudes toward democracy, less respect of authority, and more actively support work values and competition as compared to Eastern Orthodox respondents.

 

Work in Progress
  • “Democratization in Dark Times: Contemporary Central European Populism.” Coauthored with Tsveta Petrova.

    Nationalists versus globalists; traditionalists versus multiculturalists; the working class left behind versus the new professional class. This new multi-dimensional cleavage between nationalist populism and liberal technocracy is reshaping political competition patterns in many European societies. This paper asks: What accounts for the electoral successes of such populists? The study combines survey and big data to explore the demand side of this question. The paper leverages European Social Survey data from 2001-2017 to examine why some citizens vote populists into power. Empirically, the focus is on the rise and survival of Fidesz in Hungary – a case that demonstrates not only the success of contemporary European populists in assuming power but also their resilience in power. The paper test explanations that can be grouped into accounts 1) at the micro-level, focusing on the so-called authoritarian personality; 2) at the meso-level, emphasizing the socio-economic profile of certain groups of voters; and 3) at the macro-level, focusing on cultural changes. In contrast to assumptions in some previous work, the study’s findings demonstrate that voters who support populists are not against market democracy and in fact believe in democratic institutions as a means for expressing their frustrations. They do, however, also desire for more sovereignty as well as security and stability and a strong leader/state control over society.