Election Upcoming Election. Russia
This Sunday, on December 4, parliamentary elections are held in Russia as the first step in the country’s electoral cycle that will end with the presidential elections in early March 2012.
Published on balticworlds.com on december 2, 2011
This Sunday, on December 4, parliamentary elections are held in Russia as the first step in the country’s electoral cycle that will end with the presidential elections in early March 2012. Seven parties have been approved by the Russian Electoral Commission to compete over the 450 seats in the lower house, the Duma: United Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Liberal-Democratic Party, Fair Russia, Russian Patriots, Yabloko, and the Right Cause. There is little doubt that the party of power, United Russia, will remain the largest party. However, its electoral support is decreasing. In the 2007 elections United Russia received 64 per cent of the votes. In late November 2011 the support is down to between 40-53 per cent (Levada Centre; VTSIOM). The support for Putin and Medevedev personally, both leading figures in United Russia, is also lower than in many years. Party representatives around the country are therefore rallying for support around the country. Several irregularities, such as attempts to buy votes, have already been reported.
The election process is to a large extent controlled and orchestrated by the President and the Federal Government through the media and other administrative resorces. Putin and Medvedev’s decision to change places – Putin is nominated to the presidential post and Medvedev is the first candidate on the party list of United Russia – will hardly be challenged. Moreover, there is no organised opposition strong enough to challenge the current leadership. The most important short-term implication of these elections is hence not if United Russia will win a majority of the votes, but rather if this result, as well as the new government, will be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the Russian public, and how this affects its policies. If the opinion polls continue to reveal diminishing support for the current political course the Russian leadership might come to resort to more populist policies, which in the end would threaten the country’s economic and social stability.