EDITORIAL: Stunning Failure for Putin at the Polls

EDITORIAL

Stunning Failure for Putin at the Polls

In a jolting humiliation for Vladimir Putin’s “party of power” United Russia, despite relentless vote rigging the party could not muster a national majority in the last week’s regional elections.  As reported by the Moscow Times, the election results are “a serious warning for the party, reflecting an increasing mood to protest in the regions,” said Alexei Makarkin, a political analyst with the Center for Political Technologies.

Even though Putin has purged every significant true opposition party from the ballot, his own party was in effect repudiated by the voters.  And, as Nikolai Petrov reports:  “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is also the head of United Russia, took a more active role in Sunday’s elections he’s played in any since his own presidential election of 2000.”  So the result was very clearly a personal repudiation of Putin — to the extent the cowardly, lemming-like denizens of Russia are able to achieve such a thing.

As Vladimir Ryzhkov reports,

While President Dmitry Medvedev drivels on about “freedom being better than no freedom” and the world tries to understand why long-standing Arab dictatorships collapsed overnight, Russia’s corrupt autocracy continues to do what it does best: manipulating and falsifying elections.

The regional and municipal elections on Sunday are just the latest example.

This was essentially the dress rehearsal for State Duma elections in December. It showed that the country’s corrupt ruling bureaucracy — with United Russia playing the role of the bureaucracy’s party of power — will use every dishonest and illegal trick in the book to preserve its monopoly on power. Golos, an independent election watchdog, recorded violations in practically all 12 of the regions that voted for regional legislatures, in the elections of 10 regional capitals and in voting for municipal offices in many regions.

On the eve of the elections, United Russia central executive committee head Andrei Vorobyov confidently predicted another crushing victory for the party. His explanation for the optimistic forecast speaks for itself: “Our leadership strength is indisputable, and our programs are the most substantial.”

Let’s take a closer look at United Russia’s “substantial programs”:

Regional and local authorities — all United Russia members — have purged their most outspoken and critical rivals from the field of candidates and party lists well in advance of the December elections. Once again, the main victims of that process were independent candidates and members of parties without seats in local legislatures. In all, 60 percent of such candidates and 40 percent of independent candidates in regional legislatures were not allowed to register for the elections.

For example, in the Tambov region, Yabloko’s candidate was denied registration, along with all nine of the party’s district candidates. In the Kursk region, only one of Yabloko’s 11 candidates was registered, and in the republic of Adygeya, which is enclaved within the Krasnodar region, only two Patriots of Russia party candidates were allowed to register. Both the Yabloko and Right Cause party lists were excluded from participating in the Stavropol municipal elections, and Yabloko candidates were similarly shut out from elections in Vladimir, Kaliningrad and Syktyvkar.

In all, hundreds of candidates across the country were denied their constitutional right to participate in elections. As before, election officials rejected candidates by unfairly disqualifying their signature lists and by conducting a meticulous search for technical and typographical errors in their registration forms.

At the same time, the barrier to registering a political party was raised from 5 percent to 7 percent in the Nizhny Novgorod, Orenburg and Tver regions, while a long-term campaign to eliminate mayoral elections continued as residents of Stavropol and Khanty-Mansiisk were the latest municipalities to lose the right to directly elect their mayors. The residents of Perm and Vladimir lost the same right a short time earlier.

During the election campaign, candidates from parties other than United Russia were not permitted to rent premises for meetings with voters, media outlets refused to run their ads, and their fliers and posters were torn down or painted over. United Russia once again dominated the television airwaves, barraging viewers with reports of how much United Russia has accomplished for the public good in recent years. As in previous elections, United Russia is pressuring the heads of schools, hospitals and other state institutions to vote for the party of power.

In Vladimir, regional television aired a program called “We Listen to Everyone” in which only United Russia candidates participated. In the Komi republic city of Inta, local authorities banned a rally by opposition members, citing concerns over a flu epidemic. United Russia has also been showering worthy causes with budgetary funds, labeling such gifts as “assistance from the United Russia party.” Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleyev gave poor families up to 4 tons of heating coal each, which was presented as “United Russia support for the needy.” And while Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov was meeting with voters in Kursk, he was drowned out by the noise from a disco organized by United Russia. What’s more, Mironov was pelted with a sack of feathers.

With “substantial programs” like these, it was a foregone conclusion that United Russia would win in Sunday’s vote. But what is most interesting is that even these once tried and true manipulations aren’t working as well as they used to. In seven of the 12 regions in which legislative elections were held Sunday, United Russia got most, but not the majority, of the votes.  In the Kirov region, for example, United Russia got less than 40 percent of the vote, a record low.

This means that United Russia has to think up new and more devious tricks to deceive voters and manipulate the vote. This is the only option available. If United Russia had to rely exclusively on its track record and “political and economic platform” in a free and fair campaign, it would never win a single election.

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5 responses to “EDITORIAL: Stunning Failure for Putin at the Polls

  1. I cannot but help and think that this voter backlash on “Vladimir Putin’s “party of power” United Russia,” will not affect him ‘one iota’.

    He will just “cook the books” (i.e.rig the results) to ensure that nothing stands in his way to becoming the world’s next despotic ‘president for life’. If anything it will require a people’s revolution – like the ones taken or taking place, then or now in Egypt and Libya respectively and the other African states currently undergoing unrest.

    What’s that old saying! “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. I’ll take a bet that Vova Putin is not happy with the billions he has already “stashed” away at the people’s expense – they can look after themselves in their holes in the Russian ‘permafrost’, like they have always done in the past – as he wants to keep on stashing HIS billions in some safe money haven.

    It does not matter how much power or wealth he amasses it will never be enough to satisfy him. The power of the people will be the only force that he will understand as they revolt to remove and destroy this vain and self glorifying dictator.

  2. I’m sure I should figure out this site before commenting, but, that’s not really the internet way, is it.

    All I read was a lot of ranting and drivel with no specifics. Where I live, small parties are routinely denied ballot access for various reasons.

    So, it’s not at all clear to me why a tiny party like Yabloko should be assumed to have obtained ballot access. And that’s just one little part I was able to extract from your rant, which was nothing but aspersion with almost no details of any kind.

    • Yeah, a person who lived in Nazi Germany probably would not think Stalin’s Russia was all that bad. Thing is, both were headed for the ashcan of history. You probably don’t live in a country that is about to be destroyed and don’t care about those who do. We feel differently.

      What you should do is read the post, not figure out the site. The post isn’t about other parties being excluded, it’s about the only party left being rejected. See?

  3. ‘You are Red Star’s Chetnik, Putin!!!’

  4. How can you call this result a Stunning Failure for Putin? Putin haters need not be happy. Putin still controls Russia’s legislative process as before. Remember that out of three other parties, two others are also effectively Pro-Kremlin parties. Would you call Zhirinovski’s party an opposition? Please.. Communists are the only real opposition party that made it into Duma. Putin and his elite easily have a lock on 70-80 percent of legislative vote.

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