Much as everyone expected, Putin’s United Russia party won a massive victory in yesterdays’ Russian elections. As I write, 97.8 % of the votes have been counted, and 64.1% of these went to United Russia.
Other parties passing the seven percent threshold and guaranteeing themselves seats in the next Duma were the Communists (11.6%), Mad Vlad Zhirinovsky’s LDPR (8.2%) and Fair Russia (7.8%)
No real surprises, but a couple of quick points worth noting.
First, United Russia failed to reach the supermajority (66%) they would need to amend the constitution alone. True, Fair Russia and the LDPR are allies of United Russia, and almost certain to vote with Putin’s party and give him control of almost 90% of the Duma’s seats, but the near miss will surely rankle with the top brass in the Kremlin. Particlarly after so much effort was spent in ‘persuading’ people to vote for the right party.
(Update: It looks as though my maths was a little wonky and United Russia will actually have a super-majority. The red face here belongs to me, rather than anyone at UR).
Second, the pollsters who predicted that the next Duma would be made up of just two parties – United Russia and the Communists – were proved wrong. Instead, four parties will be represented in the Duma. Perhaps someone in the Kremlin really was worried that Putin would look too much like a dictator…
Image from Russia Today
Ah – but the “supermajority” required for constitutional changes isn’t based upon share of vote directly, but rather on the share of deputies in the Duma. Given that all those parties that failed to obtain 7% of the votes are not represented therein, it would appear that UR do, in fact, have the “supermajority” required to change the constitution,
If my sums are correct, based upon the provisional results currently listed on the Electoral Commission website, out of the 450 deputies in total, UR will have 315, the KPRF 57, the LDPR 40, and A Just Russia 38.
Given that only the KPRF can be relied upon to oppose the regime (selectively), it would appear to me that United Russia are more or less free to do as they will
This morning’s, NBC cable affiliate MSNBC portrayed a questionable result based on the stated impression of an over 60% Putin tally being overwhelming by Western standards.
In Georgia, where was the second guessing when Saakashvili received a 96% presidential vote tally? Likewise with Shevardnadze’s 92% win, when he was in the good graces of Soros and the neocons?
On the mentioned morning segment, NBC’s Jim Maceda said that the Russian political opposition believes the claimed rigging could’ve actually meant Putin receiving a vote in the low 50% range. Rather than note the lack of outrage in Russia with the result, Maceda uncritically quoted Russian opposition leaders saying that they could’ve won. He mentioned an Igor “Lavitsky” (last name spelled as it sounded) as one of the opposition leaders. I gather he meant Grigori Yavlinsky. Such is the level of knowledge of some of the non-Russian English language mass media reporters in Moscow.
This morning’s televised BBC feed to America showed a small gathering of Nashi supporters outside the BBC’s Moscow office. The impression was given that they served to intimidate opposition figures from going to the BBC. Yet, that same segment showed a Western observer criticize the Russian election on an unnamed Russian radio station (probably Ekho Moskvy, which is owned by the “Russian state giant” Gazprom). Russians are free to travel and have access to other views from United Russia. There isn’t a great “outrage” among Russians on the election. As one Russian in the BBC segment said, there’s a “zombifaction” of Russian society on political issues. Sounds like my own country of origin.
On the matter of elections, it was reported that the Venezuelan president didn’t get enough votes to have a prolonged stay in office, well past five years. No applause for Venezuela conducting a “free and fair election,” despite the result being the one preferred by the American foreign policy establishment at large.
This leads to the view that some in the world don’t seek to please Uncle Sam on account that official Washington will not offer much in terms of a positive feedback. I suspect that Russia falls into that category.
As per last post at his thread, that’s “zombification”.
Venichka, I think you might be right about the super-majority. Clearly I shouldn’t attempt complex calculations before my first morning cup of coffee…
Mike, I think a result of 60% plus, while not unheard of in Western democracy is a suspiciously impressive result, especially in an electoral system with several, well established, political parties. And even more so in a country whose democratic credentials are not the strongest.
Having said that, the result probably does more or less reflect Putin’s popularity. I’d argue that the pretty clear violations in places like Chechnya (where 99% plus voted for United Russia) overstate UR’s support to some extent, but I think UR would probably have achieved a 50% plus majority in a fairer election.
Western analysts should, however, have been far more critical of Saakashvilli’s 96% share of the vote in Georgia’s Presidential election. He was, without doubt, the choice of the people at the time, but not the choice of 96% of them.
I don’t think we’ve much in disagreement. Clearly, the coverage of such processes has had political aspects that result in inconsistent and somewhat hypocritical stances, as per the stated examples.
One of many other reference points:
Who killed the OSCE? http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=14536&IBLOCK_ID=35
The OSCE continued pumping out glass-half-full reports into the Putin era. In 2000, it was quick to sign off on Putin’s first-round victory, despite widespread evidence of fraud, some of it uncovered by the Moscow Times. “The OSCE should not have approved [the 2000 elections],” the Yabloko party spokesman, Sergei Loktyonov, told the eXile after Putin’s 2003 reelection. “It’s hard to say why they did that.”
But is it? In 2000, Putin was still seen as a “reformer”, as the West’s guy. He had not yet begun to cross Western oil interests or to reassert an independent and muscular foreign policy. Fast forward to 2003 and the OSCE was singing a different tune.
The OSCE hasn’t just destroyed its credibility with its strange criteria for judging some Russian elections fair and others not. As the world considers Moscow’s charge of undue American influence on the organization, it’s worth pulling an OSCE “greatest hit” out of the memory hole. In the run up to the Kosovo war, the organization was used a front for the CIA to deliver communications equipment to the Kosovo Liberation Army, and to gather targeting information for an expected upcoming NATO bombing campaign. As reported by the New York Times in March of 2000:
“When the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which co-ordinated the [human rights] monitoring, left Kosovo a week before airstrikes began a year ago, many of its satellite telephones and global positioning systems were secretly handed to the KLA, ensuring that guerrilla commanders could stay in touch with NATO and Washington. Several KLA leaders had the mobile phone number of General Wesley Clark, the NATO commander. European diplomats then working for the OSCE claim it was betrayed by an American policy that made airstrikes inevitable. Some have questioned the motives and loyalties of William Walker, the American OSCE head of mission. ‘The American agenda consisted of their diplomatic observers, aka the CIA, operating on completely different terms to the rest of Europe and the OSCE, said a European envoy’.”
Is Russia democratic?
Nobody understands Russian elections.
Most important: everyone has had a few snorts.
Saving grace: Zhirinovski is still around to entertain.
Big bonus: Lugovoi is getting a seat to stuff it up the Brits.
A Sunday segment of Russia Today aired on American CSPAN. It came across as an objective package, which included very pointed barbs from Zyuganov, Kasparov and Yavlinsky.