Mass media has littered the public sphere this week regarding the Russian Duma elections with titles similar to that of the New Yorker: Russia’s Election: Every Choice Was a Bad One. Looking past the disgustingly subjective style of writing; past the superficiality (not to say lack of knowledge) with which the Russian political space was treated; the articles managed to convey one information well – United Russia won.
The result returns Russia to ‘business as usual’, as the Duma has long supported President Putin’s policies. Furthermore, in the context of the 2018 Presidential Elections, it becomes clear that Putin will continue to serve as Russia’s most powerful man. The president’s approval rating has sky rocketed past 80% approval rating where it has remained since the annexation of Crimea.
The breakdown of the vote was as follows:
Dmitry Medvedev’s United Russia – 54.19% of the vote (after distribution 343 seats / 450 seats)
Zyuganov’s Communist Party – 13.34% (after distribution 42 seats / 450 seats)
Zhorinovky’s LDPR – 13.16% (after distribution 39 seats / 450 seats)
Mironov’s A Just Russia – 6.23% (after distribution 41 seats / 450 seats)
Zhuravlyov’s Rodina – 1.51% (did not meet 5% threshold)
Shaykhutdinov’s Civic Platform – 0.22% (did not meet 5% threshold)
Elections: Bottom line? A happy Putin.
The major criticism that extremists in Russia have had towards Putin has been that he has not cracked down hard enough on certain policies. As such, in truth, the only real opposition to Putin’s government and grasp is A Just Russia, which although traditionally supportive of Medvedev and Putin, has repositioned itself in the recent years. United Russia alone controls more than 75% of the Duma and are now able to pass any legislative project and even change the constitution.
These results were achieved even with the Kremlin working on presenting clean, fair and transparent elections. Probably due to no necessity of further electoral intervention, the Kremlin wanted to remove stains from the 2011 election, which went up in flames based on allegations of lacking “independence”. As such, yes, these were real numbers that show the deeply rooted support for Putin, Medvedev and United Russia as a whole.
What some journalists don’t understand is that, even with the lowest turnout to the ballot since the breakdown of the Soviet Union, the population is still profoundly affected by events that occurred in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s not about few choices, or bad choices. In the eyes of the population, Putin and his supporters remain the best politicians to navigate out of the storm. Yes, maybe some of the politicians were not the greatest options, but the hardcore opposition for United Russia was left out of the Duma altogether. The choices were not bad for the population, they were bad for foreign media. Elections in Russia are not reality shows and popularity contests. The New Yorker talks about bad choices, they probably got their elections mixed up.