Despite the fact that theoretical research on opportunistic political cycles is very
intuitive and well developed, empirical literature has found fairly weak evidence
of opportunistic political cycles. This paper tests the theory in a decade-old democracy
- Russia. We find strong evidence of very short opportunistic political cycles and
provide evidence and explanation why many previous attempts to find evidence failed.
Using the comprehensive list of Russia's regional elections and regional monthly
panel data between 1996 and 2001, we find that: (1) opportunistic political cycles
in regional fiscal policies are sizable and short-lived on average; (2) the magnitute
of opportunistic cycles decreases with votes' rationality and awereness (measured
by urbanization, computerization, education, and freedom of media); (3) there is
a learning curve for voters: cycles become smaller with time; (4) cycles in fiscal
policies increase political popularity and chances for re-election of incumbent governors.
Our results confirm that maturity of democracy as well as rationality and awareness
of electorate are very important factors in determination of the scope for opportunistic