In mid-March, in 76 of the 87 regions of the Russian Federation, population was called to the polls to decide their local authorities. Although the victory obtained of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s party no longer a surprise, this election (considered as a test of popularity for the ruling party United Russia, amid rising unemployment and utility prices) provided and surprises. Of that noted the victory in Irkutsk of the candidate supported by the Communist Party. As regards the poor results obtained by the opposition parties were already justified in the usual tradition of accusations against Putin system. The opposition’s leaders, seconded by non-governmental observers have spoken again the word “fraud”. In reply, the Central Election Commission head, Vladimir Churov, said that the electoral system in Russia is “the best in the world”. Conduct of elections has been accompanied by unprecedented security measures. Predictable, given that last year’s regional elections (October 11, 2009), opposition parties shout loudly that the ruling party United Russia’s victory was due to a massive fraud. After that President Dmitry Medvedev said the country needs supervision more stringent to ensure a fair vote. Overall, on the fund crisis, United Russia had seriously lost its popularity, but it would be inappropriate to talk of a dramatic reversal of the opposition. Of course, voters tend to leftist ideology is normal in the context of the social problems of crisis. But victory in Irkutsk, where Viktor Kondrashov won 62% of votes, while United Russia’s candidate, Sergei Serebrennikov, only 27%, is rather due to a collective discontent of the population from local authorities and the quality candidate than a efficiency of the actions promoted by Zyuganov’s Communists.
In fact, the current elections reiterated that opposition parties have a huge image deficit in the eyes of voters. Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic party appear to have kept faithful voters. In change, liberal anti-Kremlin opposition shows no sign of their unit voice. Even if things in words sounds encouraging, in practice the change seems to come rather from the population where social tensions have accumulated disallowed much.
Moreover, the preamble to the regional elections, Russia has experienced a marked increase in protests from the people. Of course, the crisis has created serious social problems, almost all EU countries encountering large mass demonstrations. But when speak of Russia, things become rather more complicated. An overview shows that in the last two decades, drastic measures required by the Kremlin, supported the opposition’s inability to successfully establish itself as a truly viable political force, have resulted the democratic right to protest in ridiculous. Multiple arrests, followed by the release of protesters leaders gave a hilarious tone in tragicomedy of opposition’s actions. And this was reflected in time by the increasingly anemic desire of the population to claim rights in the street. [Full article]
Published in Cadran Politic Review, no. 71/martie 2010