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Gerrymandering Ukraine? Electoral Consequences of Occupation


The occupation of Crimea and part of the Donbas will prevent roughly 12 percent of Ukrainian voters from participating in elections. These voters voted disproportionately for candidates and parties that supported closer ties with Russia. This article quantifies the changes to the electorate and projects the likely partisan impact. The changes decisively tip the Ukrainian electorate away from the east and south. Candidates and parties can no longer expect to build a national majority primarily in eastern and southern Ukraine, as Viktor Yanukovych did in 2010 and the Party of Regions did in 2012. Anticipating these effects, Ukraine’s government could seek to prolong these voters’ exclusion, while Russia could actually seek to end the occupation to get them re-included. The implication is that various actors could try to “gerrymander” the entire Ukrainian state, a phenomenon that previously has only been explored at the district level, within states. This raises the broader question of how electoral effects shape the many territorial disputes around the world.

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