Putin’s Problem: A Rumbling Russia – RantAWeek
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Putin’s Problem: A Rumbling Russia

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Posted by Tyler Miksanek on December 9, 2011 at 1:39 am

Sure, the Soviet Union collapsed twenty years ago and Russia started to transition itself away from communism and toward democracy, but Russian democracy follows a less exact interpretation of ‘rule by the people’.  In many cases, the Russian people have begun to feel uneasy about their lack of choice in governance, and they have been showing their discontent.

It all started a few weeks ago, when current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that he was running for a new term, this time as the Russian president.  However, Putin has already dominated Russian politics for the last twelve years, controlling virtually all aspects of the government.  Unhappy voters in Russia find themselves in a situation where, with little opposition, Putin is the inevitable president.  The manifestation of this displeasure is clear.  United Russia, the party Putin is most closely connected to, lost over 70 seats in the Russian legislature during the most recent round of elections.

But it gets worse for Putin.  While United Russia was able to cling on to a slim majority in the legislature, many election watchdogs have proclaimed that this was only due to ‘voting inconsistencies’.  Many have called for a re-vote, saying that the results were tipped in United Russia’s favor.

This embarrassing revelation has only brought attention to even more undemocratic practices in Russia.  United Russia has passed unfair laws that make it difficult for minority parties to run candidates in both the legislative and executive branches.  Parties do not even begin to win seats in the legislature until they garner 7% of the national vote.  Apart from ensuring that the current leaders can remain in power, this has also left United Russia and Vladimir Putin as the only option for many voters because regional and sectional parties are sidelined.  Power breeds more power, and this excess leads to corruption. With corruption running rampant in Russia, voters have plenty of reasons to be unsatisfied with their government.

Strangely enough, this anger at the incumbents, as much as it has been directed at United Russia, is barely affecting Vladimir Putin.  While his approval ratings have fallen, he still has enough support with the Russian people to easily win the election next March.  Nevertheless, more Russians are becoming aware that Putin has been changing the rules to benefit his own wishes.  The best evidence of this can be seen with the intervals between elections.  When Putin was first elected president in 2000, he served a four year term.  However, if (or more probably when) he is elected in 2012, he will be serving a six year term due to an amendment of the Russian Constitution.  If elected again in 2018, Putin would be able to serve as the Russian president until 2024.  It seems to many in Russia that the Constitution was amended solely to keep Putin in power for a longer length of time and limit voters’ say on their leadership.

Many Russian voters find the fact that an elected leader can rule for a quarter-century unnerving, but with no established opposition, Putin is the only possible outcome for the future of Russia.  Unhappy voters do not yet have the power or the ability to spur change because of both Putin’s popularity and because of unfair election rules.  Still, the hurt feelings over the most recent election will only foster more discontent in Russia as Russian voters realize that, if they choose to back anyone other than Putin, their voice in Russian ‘democracy’ will be discounted.  A choice between Putin and no one at all is not a really a choice, and as more Russian voters raise their voice in protest of these injustices, one can only hope that a movement for greater democracy in Russia can gain enough support to be politically powerful.  As of right now, however, Putin still retains the power to ignore whatever displeases him.  And yet, it may be a wise move for him to make some concessions to the opposition, and try to stop the rumblings that are gathering against him.

 

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3 Comments

  • On December 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm Anonymous said

    Do you think the “rumblings” in Russia will make any lasting impact?

    Reply

  • On December 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm Anonymous said

    Interesting article, I just read an article that said there is a new push of young Russians that are becoming more political and may give Putin a run for his money.

    Reply

  • On December 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm Toya Eberlein said

    Thankyou for helping out, fantastic info .

    Reply

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