Posts Tagged ‘Duma’
Even Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s envoy to NATO apologized for the poor timing of the announcement. While Rogozin’s Twitter comment may have been a joke, Dmitry Medvedev’s announcement yesterday was not. Looking nervously at the camera, the President of Russia stated that he was instructing the military to ramp up, and prepare for a missile defense shield in Europe. Speaking slowly and clearly, Medvedev also threatened to place Iskanders in Kaliningrad.
This was the second time in as many days that Medvedev had come out with a big defense announcement. On Monday, at a meeting in Vladikavkaz, the President had claimed that the 2008 war in Georgia had been carried out in an attempt to prevent Georgian ascension to NATO. While the threats and posturing are nothing new, the timing did seem a bit suspicious. The elections for the State Duma are in 10 days, and the Russian President is leading the party lists for United Russia, the majority party.
For the leading party, United Russia, the numbers do not look promising. In the last few weeks there have been several leaks about how badly United Russia is doing in the polls. Levada Center, the leading polling organization in Russia, revealed the results of its most recent poll. Levada takes this poll on a monthly basis, and always asks the same question: “If the election for the Russian State Duma was held next Sunday, would you vote in them, and which party would you vote for?”
Levada’s most recent results revealed that United Russia’s numbers are falling, with just 51% of their respondents answering that they would vote for United Russia. In the same poll, the Communists would get 20% of the vote. Sergei Mironov’s party would get only 7%, and LDPR (Zhirinovsky’s party) would receive 14%.
Compare this to the other polling organizations in Russia, VTsIOM, and FOM. VTsIOM’s most recent poll only gives United Russia 40%, and FOM gives United Russia 39%. Both organizations give the Communists 13%.
To give you an idea of how bad this is, United Russia currently holds 64.3% of the seats in the State Duma. The authorities are patently worried. In early November the President’s office leaked their own internal poll numbers. These numbers were closer to VTsIOM’s numbers. The leak appeared to be deliberate. A portrayal of weakness from people who do not normally like to appear weak.
So the numbers are bad, and different regions have sought to make up those numbers using “administrative resources”. This has, so far, included pressuring the clergy to urge their congregants to vote for United Russia, publishing posters with the same background as the Election Commission’s posters, and hanging up posters in public schools.
Stories have also leaked that governors’ jobs are on the line, if they fail to produce a certain result. In Novgorod, recent poll numbers placed United Russia at 40%, but fail to take into account regions like Chechnya where Ramzan Kadyrov has promised to deliver “110% of the vote”. While most people have treated Kadyrov’s oath as a joke, in the 2007 election, Chechnya did deliver over 90% of the vote to United Russia.
Utilizing so-called “administrative resources”, and with help from Governors anxious to keep their jobs, United Russia could still potentially receive 60% of the seats in the next parliamentary session. While this is not a Constitutional majority, it would enable the ruling party, and Vladimir Putin to claim a mandate. A necessity if they intend to follow through on their “modernization” platform. And, perhaps more importantly, a necessity for Putin to shore up support for the Presidential elections scheduled in March.
Is this Misha Prokhorov’s campaign strategy? If it is, I’m not convinced it is a good one, and I don’t see it ending well. But maybe he just wants to get his name out there. In that case, it may actually work. He’ll just need to move from place to place accusing officials of conspiring against him.
Levada Center has come out with its latest poll numbers. The numbers should come as no surprise. Everyone is staying pretty steady in the polls. I’ll break it down for you, anyway.
- United Russia (Party of Crooks, and Thieves) is up one percentage point from last month at 54%.
- Coming in second are the Communists with 18% (up one percentage point from last month).
- Third place goes to LDPR at 12% (down one percentage point).
- A Just Russia trails at 7% (up two points from last month).
- And Misha Prokhorov’s party (so much easier to remember than it’s real name, Right Cause) got 2% in the Levada poll.
Quite frankly, these numbers are all a little sad. United Russia’s numbers are pitiful when compared to the previous election. But I have a feeling that there are a few announcements coming that will make this election a bit more exciting.
First, Prokhorov is planning a big PR campaign starting next month. I haven’t heard any details yet, but will be sure to share when I find out more. This will, I think, get his name out there, and help his poll numbers.
Second, United Russia have postponed their congress until late September (this may turn into Gazprom: Part 2). The congress is supposed to finalise United Russia’s platform (something that I’m still not sure they have), and decide who will head the party list. Apparently, according to RIA Novosti, United Russia is hoping that Putin will head their list.
So some exciting things may be coming, but all in all, I think that this election cycle will be pretty bland, and predictable.
At least there are always the competing Putin Medvedev posters scattered around Moscow to keep us entertained.
Now that the Duma elections are getting closer, and Mikhail Prokhorov has declared his intention of getting 15% of the vote in December, I have decided to post my predictions for the elections. I found this chart over at Wikipedia of polls conducted by VTsIOM, and Levada, FOM (?), and I think it is odd that Levada is consistently higher in favour of United Russia. But all of the polls do seem to show that the apathy among the general public is growing, as well as the dissatisfaction with United Russia.
Now for my numbers:
According to Paul Goble, Andrei Fursenko went on Ekho Moskvy about a week ago, and talked about the problem the population decline will have on education. Not the most shocking of messages, and what he said seemed sound. What was more interesting was that he came pretty close to calling Putin a liar on the demographics issue, and then said that the Duma is after him.
So Andrei Fursenko is worried, but I am not sure why. He says that the Duma is attacking him, but so what? What are they going to do to him? It seems as though his fear is that the Duma will try to force him out. But it is not like the Duma has the power to do so. And why are you appealing to an audience that (theoretically, at least) has less power the the Duma? I suppose that his audience could take to the streets, but why should they? What is in it for them?
All that to say, there is clearly more to this story than what Fursenko said, and it does not bode well for the future of the tandemocracy, or for Putin’s grip on those close to him.
Now that I have given my response to Frolov’s questions, I would like to hi-light what Stephen Blank has to say:
I cannot speak for public opinion, but this fraud was wholly unnecessary if we are to believe the claim that Medvedev and Putin are so popular. If that were the case, there would be no need for fraud. Undoubtedly, the case in question points to bureaucratic guidance from above, with superiors setting targets for lower officials, etc. But it also attests to the cynicism of the elites and to the fallaciousness if not mendacity of the utter nonsense we hear about Medvedev’s liberalism.
Alexander II’s reformers were more liberal and they were very much statist. Ultimately, this tells us that the ruling system in Russia is brittle, that the elites know it and will do anything to stay in power regardless of the consequences. They don’t care how it looks.
Medvedev, for all of his speeches, is still afraid to do anything concrete in the way of reforms. Still, I do think that we can see signs of the inertia of the Putin system (in the sense of a system moving along the same line it has previously followed until it can go no further). No doubt other analysts and regime flacks will come up with all kinds of justifications for the fact that we have here a perfect likeness of, in Max Weber’s terms, “pseudo-Schienkonstitutionalismus,” and this shows that despite everything that has happened in Russia, it has still to get beyond what Russian historians used to call the “June 3 System,” with reference to Nicholas II’s forcible dispersal of the first two Dumas in 1906 to 07. If Tsarism is the best Russia can do, we are in for a very dangerous period.
Where does this leave Russia’s political system? Why was it necessary to engage in practices that might delegitimize the entire political process in order to secure a couple more seats for United Russia, which would have won the election anyway, albeit not with such astounding numbers? Why did Medvedev choose to defend United Russia’s fabricated results, instead of using the stolen election as a pretext to drive through his democratization agenda? What implications will it all have for United Russia and its grip on Russia’s political system? Does it reflect the voters’ dissatisfaction with the party of power, or is it just a consequence of the electorate’s apathy and lack of interest in representative government? Is it a sign of Putin’s political consensus coming apart at the seams, or is it just a temporary phenomenon that demonstrates the bureaucratic nature of Russia’s political system and its dependency on government bureaucracy for winning elections?
I’d like to try and post my own answers to some of these questions, rather than copying what everyone else says. Read the rest of this entry »