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Saturday, December 13, 2008

A new hope in Russia

One of the major problems with Russia is the lack of alternative to Putin, Medvedev, and the United Russia Party. The Yeltsin years discredited liberalism in Russia and the various democratic parties have not been able to get their act together. The outrageously large victories enjoyed by Putin and his allies may be suspicious, but you have to consider that there is basically no one else to vote for. In fact in the Duma elections the ‘none of the above’ option on the ballot routinely wins plurality.

This is why I am excited to learn that the democratic parties in Russia are uniting and forming a new political force. They are calling themselves Solidarity. It is being headed by Garry Kasparov, who for a long time now has been the most successful critic of the Kremlin.

I only hope that Mr. Kasparov doesn’t soon face trumped up charges. 

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on December 13, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink


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...or strange colouration of skin.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-13 11:38:43 AM

Really, this is as solid and carefully researched an entry as anything from the New York Times.
1. The "against all" was taken off the ballot in the latest Duma election. In the previous one, it "won" in 3 out of 225 constituencies.
2. Do some research on who the other guy is in this picture and ask yourself whether he is really a "new hope for Russia". Clue: his name is Eduard Limonov and he heads the National Bolshevik Party.


Posted by: patrick armstrong | 2008-12-13 12:11:00 PM

I admit that I didn't know that the option had been taken off the ballot. However I stand by my assertion that the popularity of the option in previous elections indicates a dissatisfation with the political options.

In more than one election the option has won the plurality in some electoral districts. Also the option has won a higher popular vote than many political parties. Just because they are no longer given the option doesn't mean that the dissatisfaction isn't still there.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2008-12-13 12:25:53 PM

Mr MacIntyre

There's a lot of opinion polling in Russia. All polls show a very high level of satisfaction with Putin & Co (for very understandable reasons -- ie money in your pocket).
I recommend this in particular. Check it out. Years of stuff. http://www.russiavotes.org/

Have you checked out Limonov? Not a very nice guy at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Bolshevik_Party. The flag gives the clue. Do a Google Image search -- the NatBols are the bulk of the troops in the demos. You are being suckered -- just because they say they are "democratic" doesn't mean they are.

Posted by: patrick armstrong | 2008-12-13 1:51:06 PM

I'd like to point out that in the US we didn't have much of a choice either. The debates are controlled by the R's and D's is it surprising that we have no alternatives, and media coverage of other candidates was nothing short of shameful.

The Obama and McCain campaigns jointly negotiated a detailed secret contract dictating the terms of all the 2008 debates.


While pointing out hypocrisy doesn't solve problems, it certainly can lead to some reflection.

Posted by: Jueri | 2008-12-13 2:20:32 PM

I'm not a fan of the United State's party system. I much prefer Canada's system that has historically allowed new parties to rise and fall. Yet the American system is still healthier than the Russian Party system.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2008-12-13 2:30:36 PM

Ok, but do watch the video, your response time indicates that you have not.

Is it true that Medvedev's new initiatives guarantee third party representation in the Duma?

I find it interesting that the Queen of England's representative suspended Canada's Parliament. Not being familiar with the Canadian system, I have to assume that this is just some antique formality. It looks very odd from here, but it's not really my business.

"Canada's governor general has agreed to suspend the country's two-week old parliament until January, effectively blocking an attempt by the political opposition to defeat the government.

Michaelle Jean's decision on Thursday came hours after Stephen Harper, the country's prime minister, made a unprecedented request for the suspension, local media reports said."

I guess health is a relative thing. Is this healthier given that Russia's constitution just celebrated it's 15th anniversary.

I'm not advocating right and wrong, I'm advocating some depth, context, and perspective, at least for now.

Posted by: Jueri | 2008-12-13 2:58:06 PM

Consider this: the last presidential election ran Medvedev, Zyuganov and Zhirinovskiy (and Bogdanov -- a dummy put up by the Establishment because the law says there has to be 2 runners.) Zhirinovskiy and Zyuganov are not exactly the future. Both of them ran in 1996, which was a LONG time ago. Medvedev was actually the new guy.

How about Yavlinskiy? But he refuses to combine with anyone (even though, rumour has it, Putin begged him to). Khakemada refuses to combine and SPS has now folded. Kasyanov is roundly condemned as "Misha 2 percet". Et cetera. There's an electorate in Russia that would vote for someone you like (my guess about 15%) but no candidate will agree to stand aside for the others. So they all run a bunch of "taxi parties" and nothing happens.
The fact is that most Russians -- 70%+ -- like the way things are going. All the polls suggest that. Has any poll in Canada EVER shown years of 70% satisfaction with any govt? (Again, check out Levada, which is NOT government run. Or ROMIR which isn't either).

I lived there (as a Cdn dip) 1993-1996 and I can see why they would. In those days, Russia was going down the toilet and quickly. Under Putin, everybody started doing better (comparatively). The truth is that in Russia there isn't much of an opposition and there isn't (at the moment) much of a reason to oppose Medvedev and Putin. What they do is working.

Other Russia has very little support. This is an observable fact and can easily be verified if you look at the Levada polling numbers.

Posted by: patrick armstrong | 2008-12-13 3:01:46 PM

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