What's the secret to United Russia's success in the polls?

Article published on Sept. 19, 2016
Article published on Sept. 19, 2016

Despite a historically low turnout and reports of irregularities in some areas, the Putin-backed United Russia party has won 54% of the vote in the country's parliamentary elections - an increase on the last elections in 2011. But what's the secret to the party's success?

Putin can do almost anything - Die Presse, Austria

Vladimir Putin need have no fear of elections, Die Presse comments: "His appeal can be explained by the fact that he can do what his fans in the West can't, without being held responsible for his acts. While politicians in Europe are punished by voters, he can tell them lies in their faces with impunity. Whereas as soon as they're in power Europe's populists usually fail to transform their policies of destruction into constructive governance, or to offer solutions they reject in principle, the Russian president is free from the constraints of democratically legitimated politics. He is in the comfortable position of being able to do almost anything without having to fear the consequences. It is this organised irresponsibility that Western populists can (luckily) only dream of." (19/09/2016)

Russia sinks into apathy - De Telegraaf, Netherlands

De Telegraaf says that the low voter turnout testifies to widespread apathy in Russia: "The anarchy in 2012, when the elections [of December 2011] were marked by massive fraud and thousands of people demonstrated in Moscow, seems to have definitively changed into apathy. Pensions have not been raised, people are losing their jobs, holidays in Egypt or Turkey are no longer affordable for the middle class. But apparently no one holds Putin responsible for all that... Once again reports of electoral fraud have surfaced right across the country. On the afternoon of the vote the turnout is dramatically low: under 20 percent. In the end Putin's party wins; no one says a word about voter participation. Only the prisons and psychiatric institutions report that turnout has never been this high: 89% and 85%, respectively. So the inmates and the insane have brought about an electoral triumph. Welcome to Putin's Russia." (19/09/2016)

Putin is unimpeachable - Corriere Del Ticino, Switzerland

The Russians are rewarding Putin's lack of scruples, says Corriere del Ticino: "Outside Russia, Vladimir Putin's 'dictocracy' and his unscrupulousness in foreign policy are condemned, but within Russia the Kremlin chief is rewarded for precisely these things. Moreover, Putin has used a number of tricks to secure a majority for the United Russia party... He has silenced the oligarchs by adopting a laissez faire approach towards their activities. In exchange he demands that they don't contradict him... Underpinning the president's success is the new national identity he has created. It is based on defending the traditional Russian indigenous values (as an alternative to the West's). This strategy is based above all on territorial defence, the dream of a return to the glory of the Soviet Union and the ability to intervene militarily in international crises." (19/09/2016)

Boredom and resignation - Delo, Slovenia

Delo described the elections to the Russian Duma as the most boring of the last decade: "The reallocation of seats between the governing party United Russia and the three 'system parties' didn't even particularly interest local media or commentators... The reason for this is clear to Kremlin experts: the repressiveness of President Putin's regime is to blame. Those familiar with the intrigues in the court of the 'new Czar' have been saying for the past 15 years that after a brief experiment with democracy Russia has returned to the 'pre-modern' era; to Soviet times, in which votes like yesterday's were only democratic on the surface... Perhaps Russian voters really couldn't care less who wins this game of fictional democracy... Perhaps, however, the Russians also see that it makes no difference what the parties are called, that all opposition is firmly anchored in the system and that all politicians are only interested in one thing: being in power." (19/09/2016)

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