Politics, Political Systems & Governance

Elections and Hopelessness in Russia

February marks the a mid-point of the formal presidential campaign in Russia. Yet, even though the authorities have sought to maximize turnout, there are few public reminders of the elections (beyond some advertising on billboards, leaflets, and even plastic bags)––and no competition.

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The Significance of Macron’s Election Victory

Only 39 years old, Emmanuel Macron is the youngest person ever elected president of the French Republic. He won the final round of the presidential elections by a landslide against the far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen, but he did not get the support of the majority of registered French voters. An unprecedented number of voters—over a third of the total—either abstained (25.4%) or virtually boycotted the elections by casting blank or otherwise invalid ballots (11.5%). Therefore, only 63% of French voters actually voted for one or the other candidate.

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Russia’s Mutilated Opposition

Ever since Vladimir Putin and the former KGB elite took full control of Russia, its liberal forces have been kept out of the Duma, as well as the legislative bodies of the country’s 85 federal subjects. Yabloko, PARNAS and other opposition forces are completely sidelined. Even their sympathizers are outnumbered by the Russian security forces—including the mega-riot-police called the National Guard. The strangled liberal forces no longer have even theoretical opportunities to exercise tangible influence over Russia’s political, economic and social life. Nevertheless, the few remaining domestic political opponents, however unrepresented and “unpopular”, especially those who occasionally make headlines in the Western media by exposing the corruption of (and crimes committed by) Vladimir Putin’s regime, seem to continue to irritate Russia’s masters—and are therefore severely punished.

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