Back to the USSR?

Recent elections suggest Russia may be slipping back into one-party rule.

By Riikkamari Muhonen.

There is nothing new from Russia, one could say, looking at the results of mid-term parliamentary elections that took place in September. United Russia, the leading party and that of President Vladimir Putin, increased its support to win a clear majority this time, with 54 percent of votes securing a record 343 out of 450 seats in the parliament. Putin’s party remains unchallenged and has only grown in parliamentary influence. As is typical, voting fraud took place around the country, according to both Russian and international organizations. The results raise only one question: is Russia on its way back to Soviet-style one-party rule?

Apathy Rules

The campaigns for the recent election could be described as vague. The elections were organized three months earlier than usual, which meant that campaigning took place in August, the most popular holiday season in Russia. The overall voter turnout was a record low 48 percent, which means that the new Duma was chosen by less than half of eligible Russians.

In Moscow and St. Petersburg, voting activity was even lower. In St. Petersburg, only 16 percent, and in Moscow, only 28 percent of the population had cast their vote two hours before the voting stations were closed. The final turnout in Moscow was 35 percent, in striking contrast with the Duma elections in 2011 when 50 percent of Muscovites used their right to vote.

It is the lowest turnout since Putin came to power in 2000. More distant areas, such as Chechnya, had turnouts of over 70 percent, but this is a typical, even relatively low, number for these areas. The high turnout is mostly caused by manipulation and used to improve the nationwide statistics. The overall low voter turnout supports United Russia, allowing …

To read complete articles from the Autumn 2016 issue, subscribe to the eReader edition.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s