Alexandr Pyatkov – Features and Padoxes of the Current Stage of the Russian Electoral Process





A. Pjatkov, Doctor of History, professor of Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Service at the President of the Russian Federation, the department of State and Municipal Construction.






We are at the last electoral cycle, when parliamentary elections directly flow from the presidential. Of course, this is very expensive for the country but quite promising for the researchers. A unique feature of the political process became massive intervention of Russian citizens headed by representatives of the so-called ‘non-system’ and the ‘system’ opposition dissatisfied with the results of Duma elections, as well as with numerous violations during their organization and conduct. It is clear that the Prosecutor had initiated more than three dozen of cases, and this is a reaction of the authorities to events geographically associated with Bolotnaya square and Sakharov Prospect, to put it mildly, does not match the number of corruption crimes of the officials – actors of the election campaign. Notorious cases of injecting ballots in boxes, ‘clipping’ of independent and alternative party observers from monitoring the vote count, the implementation of administrative pressure from the leaders of the State and municipal authorities on employees by means of the absentee system, ‘squeezing’ representatives of public organizations from the list of United National Front by the senior members of the ‘United Russia‘ in the regions. Not at the full extent but post facto irregularities were recorded at a special session of the State Duma in January 27, 2012, where were uttered brief reports of the chairman of the Central Electoral Committee, Minister of Internal Affairs, Prosecutor general of the Russian Federation.

Held a few days later a mass meeting at the Bolotnaya square  in Moscow « For fair elections» has collected from 30 (according to official data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) up to 100 (data of organizers and observers) thousand person. The same day supporters of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Liberal-Democracy Party of Russia, participants of movement «the Essence of time» of S.Kurginjan held a meeting in the capital. In St.-Petersburg the action has been supported by performance of one and a half million of citizens, Novosibirsk has gathered from 800 up to 1500 people. Protest actions took place in Omsk, Barnaul, Khabarovsk.

Massive demonstrations of the citizens dissatisfied with obvious or alleged falsifications on elections, violent politicization of the population – all this was mostly unexpected, not only for the authorities, but also for a large part of the expert community. Hence there are such a powerful variety of opinions concerning various aspects of the current stage of our political development. Some analysts call legitimacy of Duma (and future presidential) elections in question, following the leaders of deputy’s fractions in the parliament, having still cumulative minority. In some publications the prospective bonus in favour of the ‘United Russia’ due to usage of corruption diagrams during elections reaches 10 %! Demonstrative database of calculations as a rule is completely missing, and thus objective scientific analysis reveals that these conclusions are not credible evidence.

However, the rumors for such no academic discussions, unfortunately, are also feed by, characteristic statements of the first persons of the state that in comparison with the previous electoral cycles present differs by primordial cleanliness and transparency. The current Russian electoral model was created during two decades, with participation of all former and current Duma factions and other political actors. This model, as well as a whole modified model of the Russian democracy is highly flawed and possesses corruption elements. But it can and should be improved not by the demonstrations or “orange” revolutions that misters Navalny, Lemonov and Udaltsov try to initiate, but by means of laborious legislative activity of the elected representatives at all levels of public authority.

Over politicized confrontation between analysts are clearly defined by current struggle for the Presidency. Arguments of political scientists-adherents of alternative political strategy in presenting the mass demonstrations before the election only as anti-Putin’s are extremely week, even in the context of this confrontation. In spite of the fact that these events have shown obvious mobilization of opposition potential, at the same time sign processes in many respects were noted. Curiously enough, falling rating of Mr. Putin observed in last months has stopped and even began to grow.

The inaccuracy of the unequivocal characteristic of a social composition and ideology of participants of the protest, which contains in some publications, is very obvious. They are often presented as supporters of losing parties or indeed – depoliticized lumpens, who prefer spontaneous form of “color” performances and ignore the installed elective procedures. Also rather unpleasant the position of some experts, flowing into the euphoria about finally acquired adequate civil society in Russia, and the events on the Swamp square and Sakharov Prospect ostensibly were the evidence of that.

It is necessary to remind that the civil society a priori – is system of non-government social self-organized groups, having effective mechanisms of influence on implementation of governmental policies and formation of governmental bodies, including, in particular, an effective mechanism as fair and honest elections of government institutions. Well known that one of the major conditions of occurrence and development of civil society is middle class – a mass kernel of social structure. In our country there is no middle class because there is no mass layer of socially significant owners. The level of income in this case is obviously unproductive. And if there is no middle class as a social kernel there is no adequate civil society with its effective structures of influence on authority and a possibility of formation of the competitive environment for promotion of competent politicians and managers. Hence the mistrust in democratic law, electoral system, fair election results, the will and capacity of Government to suppress corruption during the elections. Hence there are massive meetings and demonstrations.

Russian voters are traditionally focused on the identity of certain political leaders, rather than on socio-economic programs of the party. Citizens, as before, choose not a political rate, not strategy of progress of the country, but specific political person. This is fully characterizes the level of political culture, and hence reveal the development of civil society in the country, following Mikhalkov’s movie brand “The Tsar of All Russia” are trying to turn citizens into the subjects.

Traditionally most part of the Russian society and the most part of a political class in against of democratic institutions and mechanisms prefers centralism and administration. Within the limits of such tradition possibilities of political choices are insignificant and often are unnecessary. Thus society is focused on the one leader and one political party. Over the past two decades this tradition significantly weakened, but it continues to be dominant. Political parties dependent on the power elite and do not represent itself as effective elements of the civil society, that can stand up to protect of social interests. Political process has personal character.

In this context the anti-Putin’s rhetoric of some experts concerning transformation of the Russian political system is intolerable. So one can blame analysts in the absence of elementary logic, those analysts who with a high degree of sarcasm previously spoke on the distribution of roles within the «a dominating tandem». Now many of them are trying to distance the policy of the acting President on the democratization of the political system and strengthening of popular representation, the further development of civil society institutions, modernization of political system in our country from the political predilections of the presidential candidate – Putin.

According to sociological surveys, conducted in December and January conducted by Levada-Centre, today the role of V. Putin as a national leader recognize more than 50 percent, against 36 percent who rejected this status. In this sense Putin’s realized initiative on creation of the Incorporated popular front can be regarded not only as the successful selective technology, providing a “United Russia” apparent victory and the majority in Parliament. It is rather an attempt to distance from the party in power in favour of enhancing its status as a national leader and popularization of the own original national development strategy, whose main provisions and began a series of articles containing the prime minister and presidential candidate in Russia.

Turning back to the question of the legitimacy of the previous Duma (and future presidential) elections, it is important to note the obvious regularity of their results without dependence from possible correlation by means of official proceedings admitted during the election violations. Emphasize once again, regularity and legality. I believe, that the best evidences of it are the results of heated discussions of the last elections to Duma at session of the Lower House of Parliament in January,27.


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