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RUSSIAN ELECTIONS AND PROTESTS December 28, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Democracy, Global Electoral Politics.
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Vladimir Putin has rejected calls for calls for any review of the parliamentary elections declaring the the Duma was now a fait accompli.

Even as claimed by the protesters that the elections were rigged, support for the All Russia People’s Front party – probably sounds better in Russian – fell from 64% in the previous election to less than 50%.

The question then is why were there unprecedented protests at the results. One important clue may be to get some idea of how the system works. The voting system has been modified, and it seems the modifications have been strongly influenced by Putin. It would appear, based on the summary from the University of Aberdeen that the single member seats have been abolished leaving an Australian Senate style proportional representation list system, with a 7% threshold.

Anissa Naouai reports on the elections and the protests for RT:

The BBC reports that Vladimir Putin argues that the opposition has no clear agenda and the only way the vote can be disputed is by recourse to the courts. BBC News notes:

Observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the polls were slanted in favour of the pro-Kremlin party United Russia.

They reported apparent manipulations such as the stuffing of ballot boxes and said the election administration “lacked independence”.

The Russian authorities were also criticised for banning several opposition parties.

The protesters have called for a re-run of the vote, a demand rejected by the Kremlin. President Medvedev announced political reforms last week, but many demonstrators said they did not go far enough.Mr Medvedev is not standing for another term as president and will make way for Mr Putin who previously held the post between 2000 and 2008.

Mr Putin remains popular with many Russians and until recently a presidential victory had appeared all but certain. However, correspondents say the protests have made him look more vulnerable.

Former US presidential candidate, John McCain, was keen to make the connection with the Arab Spring suggesting that the tide of events was running against Putin, and so as these things work it might be, but equally could it not be possible that the same force of history is working against the two-party owned monopoly in the US? Equally, it is fair to observe that it would take a far more intense political earthquake to displace an entrenched system, however corrupt, than to dispute and depose a recently contrived one.

POSTSCRIPT:

I don’t know very much about this subject – modern philosophy, or even ancient philosophy – but it occurred to me that what is happening in both Russia and the United States was “a crisis of legitimacy”. So where does the term come from, and are the defining characteristics of such a crisis. It seems the expression perhaps originates with Jurgen Habermas.

As a further note, it seems to me that philosophy is a deeper understanding of history and context. While I accept as a given that science provides a consensusal understanding of reality based on provisional strengths of the assumptions made, such as the realm of the first fixed star or the closeness to the speed of light, consciousness is indeterminate (and I had not thought that somebody had thought of that before me, leaving me with the sense that my understanding was at best threadbare).

We know for example that human beings consciously, and perhaps unconsciously, make stuff. But to what end? I was lead to this line of thought by reading William Butler Yeats’ sonnet form (via Michael Nagler, Metta)), exploring the options:

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