Well, the preliminary results are in from the Regional elections that took place across Russia last weekend.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that pro-Putin party United Russia came first in 13 of the 14 regions, with around 46% of the vote. Nor will it surprise you to hear that newly formed pro-Putin party A Just Russia won in the 14th region.
RFE/RL reckon that the biggest surprise was the surprisingly strong performance of the Union of Rightist Forces, which won representation in 7 of the 14 regions. The reason?
“Observers tend toward the opinion that access to air time was a kind of payment from the Kremlin for the SPS’s loyalty,” the newspaper added. “We recall that the SPS, unlike Yabloko, did not take part in the ‘March of the Discontented’ that took place at the beginning of March in St. Petersburg, although the rightists condemned the harsh actions of the law-enforcers against the participants in the action.”
Yabloko, of course, were controversially not even registered in some elections, including St Petersburg, as I’ve noted previously
For me, though, I was impressed that the Communist Party managed to hang on to a reasonable share of the vote – finishing second overall, with around 16% of the votes cast.
A few more bits and pieces:
- The Communist Party and Union of Rightist Forces are contesting the elections in Dagestan and Moscow respectively.
- The FT say that Russia’s party system isn’t an effective safety valve for social discontent.
- Following the election, Putin dismissed Central Elections Commission chairman Alexander Veshnyakov, who had previously been critical of the growing dominance of United Russia. He was also one of the few remaining holdouts from the Yeltsin era.
If I may ask, please, what is your assessment ?
Were these elections falsified ? Botched ? Manipulated ? Or do they simply reflect that the Russian people are in their majority happy with their president and the way he runs the country ?
Whoops – I posted the comment on the previous post: it was meant for this one:
One has to laugh at how it just cuts the western media which just hates that the pro-VVP party(ies) did so well
Of course access to air time is a consideration but not, I think, so critical as people make out. As someone whose worked elections in the UK, it is amazing how *little* substantive press coverage matters as much as we politicos would hope.
I think this set of elections shouldnt be over-studied, but it is, I think interesing that A Just Russia came first in Stavropol.
So our Siloviki friends are helping VVP build a functioning two-party system where there is a centre-right party and a right-wing party; both very loyal to the idea of an imperial Presidency. So far, so US of A.
One suspects that is a good thing for Russia. A sustainable model in which something like liberal-democracy can grow over (a long) time. Thank God, I say: I would much rather try to do business with that than a Government subservient to a rag-tag fleet of coalition parties, on the pay-roll of one oligarch or another (the Khodorkovsky plan as I recall); or Ukraine today: spendid democracy, shame about the legislative paralysis and stonking rise in Government corruption).
Do you think this election could be considered as “dress rehersal” for the 2008 presidential elections?
The most tragic part of it all is that Putin’s party (and its invented opposition Just Russia) could probably win a majority in today’s Russia even without interfering with the opposition.
I also saw that election commissioner Alexander Veshnyakov was fired today. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/03/13/europe/EU-GEN-Russia-Elections.php
I think Red Exile above is right. Its better to have a properly functioning Duma, even if it is totally subservient to Vladimir Putin, passing laws and getting things done rather than stuck in a quagmire like it was in the early 90’s or like in Ukraine now. Maybe someday there will be lively elections and choices to be made by voters. But the 90’s are too fresh in Russian memory for that now, they just want more of the same. And no amount of western moaning will change that. It is a pity though about the way the authorities make life hard for the opposition. They shouldnt even bother. They’d win easily anyway. Especially when you look at the opposition! You’ve got the LDPR, the Communists and the Agrarian Party. Zhirinovsky excepted(on the grounds of humor, nothing else!) there’s nobody to vote for really.
What the elections reflect is that there are no viable opposition parties in Russia because the Kremlin has crushed them, so just in Soviet times there are no choices for the voters. Moreover, even if there were choices, the Kremlin has seized conctrol of the TV media, from which the vast majority of Russians get their news, so the people would have no idea who to choose even if there were choices.
Adolph Hitler was popular in Germany before he destroyed the country. Does that mean Germans were right to approve of him wiping out millions of Russians?
Perhaps you think Russian election of a proud KGB spy is merely a domestic issue. Would you feel that same way if America elected Shamil Basayev president? Russia is providing aid to terrorist organizations that attack America such as Hamas and Hezbollah; it is providing weapons to arch American foe Venezuela, and nuclear technology to arch American foe Iran. Yet, it screams to high heaven when America provides defensive missile technology to Eastern Europe. America has every right to oppose the consolidation of a neo-Soviet regime in Russia, and will continue to vigorously do so whether you like it or not. If Russia persists in its current course, a second cold war will result and Russia will go the way of the USSR.
LR – whom Russia elects as President is a matter for Russian voters, not for you or your useless government who cant run the US let alone anywhere else. You’d better hold onto your supermarket coupons LR, you might need them if the US mortgage market collapses. And trying to compare Putin with Shamil Basaeyev is just plain ridiculous and has no basis whatsoever.
Pretty much like all your arguments -based on flawed logic, speculation and spin. I have never seen you once make a valid point ever. Anywhere.
”Adolph Hitler was popular in Germany before he destroyed the country. Does that mean Germans were right to approve of him wiping out millions of Russians?”
What is that about exactly? What raving nonsense is that? Does it mean anything? Or is it just the usual nonsense thrown in for padding?
Russia is supporting Hamas because if they dont Palestine will collapse, simple as that. Russia are helping pay the day to day bills of the Palestinian government without which there’d be total anarchy there. On a recent visit to Moscow, Hamas officials were not allowed to meet Putin because they hadnt renounced their refusal to recognise Israel. Your line on Russia and Hamas is old, tired and innaccurate. When are you going to say something factual and useful?
I dont now much at all about Venezuela. But it seems to me countries are entitled to arm themselves, especially after your own government ignored the UN security council and invaded Iraq. I dont think you realise fully the effect that act had on the world. Countries now realise that they arent safe if nuts like Bush and Cheney are in charge. You couldnt blame them. It seems to me LR your problem is not with Russia – your problem is with ANY country that defies the United States. Which makes you a Neo-con, am I right?
Your problem is that you dont like any nation having the ability to stand up to the US.
Putin should stay on his assertive path and the world will be better off. What you dont realise is that its already happening. American threats and rhetoric might have counted for something under Yeltsin but now they are nothing to the Kremlin. Russia is just not in the US sphere of influence anymore. Get over it.
I think that Georgians would be among the first to complain if the USA elected Basaev, given his past in the Abkhaz conflict.
The US missile technology is no more or less defensive than the AKs and SUs to Venezuela, or the PVO missiles to Iran.
By the way, I meant to ask:
When you wrote “the Russian people are in their majority happy with their president and the way he runs the country” to what exactly were you referring?
To the fact that Russian men don’t live to see 60?
To the fact that the average Russian earns $2.50 per hour?
To the fact that Russia has the #5 homicide rate in the world?
To the fact that Russia loses up to 1 million people from the population each year?
Yup, sure seems like grounds for satisfaction to me.
When you wrote the Russian people are in their majority happy with their president and the way he runs the country to what exactly were you referring?
First, a ? generally indicates that the text written was supposed to be a question, not a statement. Had I intended to make a statement, and not to ask a question, my text would have ended with a !. Not with a ?. But I think you knew that already, so I won’t catch that bait.
My exact words were: Or do they [the elections] simply reflect that the Russian people are in their majority happy with their president and the way he runs the country ?
Where exactly to you read a statement in my words ? Anyone ?
I know that you do not feel like hearing a reasonable answer. Please accept that I do not feel like hearing polemics.
More troll-feeding 😉
By the way: siberianlight is cool.