Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Aftermath Of 2011 Duma Elections: Moving To Russia 2.0

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011   No comments

By Philippe Conde

The parliamentary elections that took place in Russia on 4 December 2011 usher in a new era for the post-Soviet political system in the country. The poor results registered by the Kremlin’s party, United Russia – amid allegations of wide- spread vote-rigging – show that its decade-long domination is over. United Russia got only 49.3% of the votes, which is far behind the 64.1% the party obtained in 2007. This situation makes the next Duma more open for debate and the next March presidential elections more competitive. Despite the loss of the constitutional two-thirds majority (315 seats out of 450 in 2007), United Russia won 238 seats, meaning that it still holds the majority necessary to pass laws alone.

Three other parties made their way into the Lower House: the Communist party came in sec- ond with 19.2% (up from 11.6%) and 92 seats, A Just Russia gathered 13.25% (up from 7.7%) and 64 seats, and the far-right Liberal Democratic Party, or LDPR, got 12% (up from 8.1%) and 56 seats. These results reflect a better picture of the balance of political forces in the country than the former Duma, but the elections took place in a tense atmosphere.

In the run-up to the election, opposition activists were rounded up by police or detained in Moscow.1 During the elections a wide array of traditional manipulations were used such as ballot box stuffing or pressure on civil servants to vote. Similar to former elections, regional leaders were ordered to return high votes in favor of the incumbent ruling party.2 Thus, Soviet-like high figures were registered in the North Caucasus republics, with a special mention for Chechnya, where allegedly 99.48% of voters backed United Russia, with a turnout of 99.51%, while United Russia support in Dagestan, Ingushetia or Kabardino-Balkaria reached a record high of 90%-91%. These results can be explained – to a great extent – by a system based on authority. North Caucasian leaders rule these republics like their private fiefdoms, especially in Chechnya, where Ramzan Kadyrov has ruled with an iron fist since 2007.



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