Russian elections: Voter apathy and mistrust - Russian elections

Russian elections: Voter apathy and mistrust

The people of Russia have probably lost hope for an opportunity to show influence on the fate of their country, even though the Constitution of the Russian Federation gives such powers to the people. Alas, the elections held in Russia on September 9 prove this thesis.

Let's consider the most significant expression of people's power at the elections - the turnout. In many regions of the country, the turnout was "sadly low" and could barely catch up with the results of the previous similar elections. It appeared, though, that the turnout would be high, especially in light of the recent decisions that the government and the parliament have made with regard to the pension reform in Russia. It was believed that many voters would come to the elections to vote against some candidates and cast their votes in favour of others.

However, the main outcome of the September 9 elections in Russia was voter apathy and mistrust. Shortly before the vote, millions in Russia signed petitions in protest to the initiative of the government to raise the retirement age. However, all those petitions went straight into the bin, parties supported the reform and then everyone could watch Putin's weak and inconclusive speech on TV.

On September 9, about 60-70 percent of the Russian population simply decided not to execute their civil duty and preferred to ignore the vote. As Mark Twain once said, "if voting made a difference, they wouldn't let us do it."

According to many experts, the election campaign of 2018 has set a record since 2013 in terms of the withdrawal of party lists from elections to regional parliaments and deputies. Eight lists had been withdrawn by September 2. The election struggle was not for votes, but for a possibility to get into the right lists.

For example, the lists of Yabloko party were withdrawn from the elections to  regional parliaments in the Yaroslavl Region, the lists of Rodina party - in the Trans-Baikal Territory, Communists of Russia - in Kalmykia, the Party for Justice - in Yakutia and Great Fatherland Party - in the Nenets Autonomous region.

As for individual candidates, the story is quite sad here too as all prominent candidates who posed competition to authorities were withdrawn from lists as well.

For example, Maxim Suraykin, the head of Communists of Russia party, was removed from the election of the mayor of Moscow. Another candidate, Mikhail Balakin, was forced to defend his right to run at court.

One way or another, but the elections have come to an end, and their final results are to be announced within the coming days. One can say for sure that the voting went without scandals and mass violations but under the condition of voter apathy.

What does the Kremlin get after the September 9 elections? The Kremlin gets the candidates elected by only a third of Russia's population to continue to "express the will of the people" (under the Constitution) by raising taxes, managing the social sector in regions and implementing the pension reform.

Meanwhile, Western publications dream about the day, when Russia falls into Ukraine's abyss of chaos as a result of a coup, in which active minority rises to topple the regime, while passive majority does not interfere. Russia's most recent elections, alas, have shown the growth in the share of passive majority that was supposed to rule the country through elections, but instead stopped trying and ceased to believe in such an opportunity.

Most importantly and unfortunately, this is not just a signal or a message - this is the alarm. The political situation in Russia grows more critical while staying outwardly calm.

On September 9, the Russians went to the polls to elect MPs, governors (in 22 regions), five mayors, including the mayor of Moscow. Sixteen regions held elections to regional parliaments, while campaigns to municipal legislative assemblies were held in several cities. All in all, the elections were held in 80 Russian regions.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov