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2018 Russia Presidential Election

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bumblebee

Welcome to @bumblebee Russian Tea Room

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In this thread of the World News section, I'll try to keep you up-to-date with what's going on in Russia as things are building up for the 2018 Presidential Election. Before y'all respond by saying that there's nothing interesting or exciting about it, let me tell you that this is going to be a bit more than just about Putin (although he's an important part of it) or other politicians. I would love to offer you some analysis of the Russian political system as it is going through a painful stage of budget tightening and economy slowdown and the elections

. Hopefully @PartySickor @Dominic Marc will help me pin this thread until the election day, because I don't wield the power to do it alone. Take your seats sweetlings. 

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Today is Lesson One: brief history of modern Russia's political system evolution.

There are hardly two things more contradicting than the Russian Constitution and the current political system of the country. According to the Constitution, we have the division of power, just like any other democratic country. The President, the Parliament and the Court are proclaimed independent from each other by the Сonstitution. 

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In reality, the situation is different, and Imma explain why.

 

1999-2003

When Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned in 1999 (after serving two terms), the Presidential election were held in 2000, where the newcomer Putin scored a narrow victory. In 2000, Putin got, rather modestly, 53% of the votes, while his closest competitor, the communist Zuganov got 29%. The US and EU observers didn't find any reason to believe there was violation of election law which could've influenced the results, but they pointed out that the opposition candidates didn't get equal access to the national TV. Yet it was obviously a victory and Putin celebrated that. Putin took the office in 2000 and the former President's Administration Chief remained Putin's Administration Chief as well, which meant that Putin still kept close ties with the previous president's team. 

However, the Parliament was certainly not something Putin would've envision.

First of all, the Lower House of Parliament, which had been elected in 1999 and was meant to serve until 2003,  looked deliciously diverse:

500px-Russian_State_Duma_1999-2003.svg.p

The parties which were supporting Putin's bid for Presidency in 2000 are of blue colour. As you can see, they don't have enough seats to form a majority. That's why in order to have a Prime-Minister which would suit Putin's interests, he had to negotiate a deal with grey and yellow/orange parties. 

Secondly, the Upper House of Parliament consisted of the elected governors of all Russian regions, and of one additional elected representative from each region, about 170 members altogether. The members of the Upper House of Parliament were elected.

Over the course of the first three years of his presidency, Putin was responsible for the following important steps:

1. the owners of the two most important TV channels were forced to flee the country 

They were charged with multiple financial crimes, and thus the two competing TV channels ended up being sold to the government-owned companies. The era of state propaganda began to dawn. 

2. Putin launched a military campaign in Chechnya

He started a second war (the first war was lost in the 1990s) against those who were fighting for the region's independence from Russia, the separatists heavily linked with islamic fundamentalism. Russian military forces ultimately prevailed, but in 2002 the remaining separatists' loyalists captured a theater in Moscow, taking 916 people hostages. The attackers were wearing bombs and threatening to blow themselves and the theater unless Russian army withdrew from Chechnya. The attack left from 130 to 174 people dead. 

Putin needed tougher legislation in order to lead a more agressive campaign in Chechnya. He had the coalition in the Lower House, but he lacked authority in the Upper House, because people in the Upper House usually didn't belong to any party, they were individually elected representatives from all the regions of Russia. That's why Putin started pushing the Parliament Reform, relying on the fresh power of the two most influential TV channels the government had recently acquired, and pressing the point that he needed it for the greater, military good of the country and for the end of the Chechnya war.

The Upper House surrendered, and the law was introduced according to which members of the Upper House of Parliament were no longer elected, they were since 2002 appointed by the President personally, just like the Queen in England appoints the House of Lords. 

With the Upper House of Parliament under his control, he began preparing for the 2003 Lower House Parliamentary Elections. 

 

2003-2007

In order to get rid of the coalition government, Putin created a new party for the election, the party which was promoted by him. The party leaders were his closest allies. The party was called "United Russia" and it took part in the 2003 Parliament election for the first time. By 2003, Putin's popularity had grown a lot, because he was seen as a tough leader to deal with the terrorism threat, on the one hand, and because the economy kept growing steadily, leaving the 1998 disastrous default and inflation and currency plummeting behind. 

The results of the Parliament election had everyone shook: 

500px-Russian_State_Duma_2003-2007.svg.p

Blue is the colour of the planet from the view above, and blue is the colour of Putin's party in 2003. His party scored 304 seat out of 440, enough seats not only to form the government, but also to change the Constitution (2/3 votes required for that). 

Basically, that was it. He had the Lower House of Parliament under his control because his party had nearly 70% of seats, he was appointing the members of the Upper House of Parliament because of 2002 law. With the full power of legislation and the executive power at his command, he started getting ready for the 2004 re-election. 

His most important steps of 2003-2007 were: 

1. Pressing charges against the richest Russian businessman and the man who declared he'd run for President, too, Mr. Khodorkovsky.

Mr. Khodorkovsky was arrested and charged with fraud, tax evasion, and other financial crimes. Mr. Khodorkovsky's company, YUKOS, the biggest Russian oil company which was planning to sell 15% of its shares to ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, had its assets frozen after Mr. Khodorkovsky's arrest. Needless to say, the stocks of YUKOS plummeted dramatically after the arrest of its CEO and key shareholder. Before long, the government-owned company Rosneft purchased YUKOS at a very low price. 

2. Canceling the gubernatorial elections in Russia in 2004. 

The elections of the governors were cancelled. The law was passed by both Houses of Parliament, fully controlled by the President. 

3. Winning the re-election with a whooping 71,9% of votes in the first round. 

His popular vote increased by 10,000,000 between 2000 and 2004. 

4. Launching massive investment programs to boost domestic economy.

The source for investment came from the rapidly increading oil incomes. 

 

In 2008, he stepped down because according to Russian Constitution, the President can't occupy the office more than two terms in a row. That's exactly what the text says: no more than two terms in a row, and in Russian language, it means that if you occupy dem terms not in a row, you can be the president as much as you wish. 

 

2011-2017 

In 2011, the Parliament elections didn't end very well for Putin's party. Because of the consequences of the world economic crisis of 2008, Russia's economy went into recession and people were not very pleased with the government, and the 2011 Lower House elections result looked this way: 

358px-State_Duma_seats_2011.svg.png

In 2011, pro-Putin's party, the blue one, got just 238 seats out of 450 - a sharp decline from 304 seats in 2003 and from 315 seats in 2007. 

Putin was re-elected the following year with 63% of the votes - a decline from 71% in 2004. Not to mention that between the 2011 Parliament elections and 2012 Presidential election all the major Russia cities were engulfed in mass protests against Putin's party and against Putin's re-election. 

Once in the office in 2012, Putin started setting the ground for 2016 Parliament election. The 52% of the seats which his party had from 2011 to 2016 was not enough for him, it was too narrow and too fragile. It took just 14 deputees to reject the laws.  

Ever since 2012, the furious state propaganda began to swallow all the national TV media, focusing on Church values, LGBTQ-hatred, anti-West stuff and since 2014 - the Ukraine War. With enormous efforts and enormous budgets, his party won the 2016 Parliament election, gaining a record-breaking number of 343 seats:

640px-7_State_Duma.svg.png?uselang=ru

 

SUMMARY

  What does this brief story tell us about Mr. Putin and the regime and the system he has constructed? 

1. It's not a democracy in the political sense of the word. Free public political competition is very often regarded as a crime, and the higher the level of competition, the more severe the crime it is considered. Furthermore, the independent TV channels have been irradicated, and the political message on TV - which is hugely popular among Russian audience - has become homogenized. Finally, the President controls the biggest party through his friends and allies, and thus has the power over the legislation and court system, and the division of power does not really happen. 

2. It's not a totalitarian system either, because everybody is free to leave and to call him a toad in Internet. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube work freely, and there, Putin and his allies are dragged harder than Sam Smith by Little Monsters during the Oscar galla. People are free to move across the country if they want, nobody cares if they emigrate, you are free to choose any job you can find. You can also come to the elections and choose from any party on the ballot or any candidate on the ballot. 

3. Putin imitates the key institutions of democratic society. Putin could've dismantled the Parliament already, he could have cancelled the elections to the Lower House just like he cancelled the elections to the Upper House, but he refuses to do so. Since 2012, he re-introduced the elections of the governers, bringing them back after a nearly 10 years ban. He could've also changed the Constitution (because he has enough votes) and could've made himself a pemanent leader of the country, but he refuses to do so. 

And that's a very curious thing. He has chosen a certain style of dictatorship. He didn't choose the style of a total dictator or a military dictator, he is the dictator who is executing a control over a perfectly democratic system by ruining its democratic essence backstage. For instance, he is not fighting his competitors during the election campaign by public debates and giving speeches. He makes sure that the dangerous opponents don't get on the ballot under some pretext, yet he gives the chance for other candidates to appear on the ballot. He allows the opposition parties to campaign heavily in the internet, they can campaign there as much as they want; it's just that he bans them from TV channels. Russian election law is perfectly democratic: it's the TV channel "voluntary" censorship and the rejection of registration of new parties that keeps the system under his electoral control. 

That's how he maintains a political system that would go on even if he suddenly disappeared from the top office - like he did in 2007. The Lower House and the Upper House, no matter how much controlled by Putin, are the important parts of the political system, the parts he had never been brave enough to get rid of, no matter how strong his ambitions for power had been. 

Next week, I will tell ya how this system is preparing for the Presidential Election. You may also leave questions here :gaycat:

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Edited by bumblebee
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Uncle ARTPOP

Inb4 America Hacks the election and the country is furious

Poor is the man who's pleasure, depends on the permission of another... Probably banned for foul language.
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bumblebee
3 minutes ago, Uncle ARTPOP said:

Inb4 America Hacks the election and the country is furious

Inb4 Putin is accused of cooperating with the USA on hacking the Russian elections :sweat:

The reverse Warholian expedition at full display :diane:

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KleinGa

Hack them :lolly:

If Putin's people doesn't win tho :tony:

Edited by KleinGa
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Derpplause

they better put Cici in charge

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10 minutes ago, Uncle ARTPOP said:

Inb4 America Hacks the election and the country is furious

here for it

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bumblebee
4 minutes ago, KleinGa said:

Hack them :lolly:

If Putin's people doesn't win tho :tony:

Spam ha 

Hack ha 

Send ha risky external links :whitney:

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calmar
2 minutes ago, bumblebee said:

Is that Sarah Paulson behind him :air:

That's Kate McKinnon

EDIT: Also, when you refer to blue in the charts you put up, are you referring to the голубой, the синий, or both? (The translation into 'blue' kinda messes with you if you know that Russian distinguishes them.)

Edited by calmar
俺の勝利は揺るぎない
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PunkTheFunk
2 minutes ago, bumblebee said:

Is that Sarah Paulson behind him :air:

Kate McKinnon :poot:

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calmar
Just now, bumblebee said:

:air:

they are nothing alike 

:air:

Just edited my response with a question ^^

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bumblebee
5 minutes ago, calmar said:

Just edited my response with a question ^^

In 1999 graph I referenced blue as both, голубой and синий, because they were all pro-Putin.

As for the translation, I will be honest, I don't know how to clarify that синий and голубой are different shades of blue which are very important standalone colours in Russia. You got any idea?

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calmar
Just now, bumblebee said:

In 1999 graph I referenced blue as both, голубой and синий, because they were all pro-Putin.

As for the translation, I will be honest, I don't know how to clarify that синий and голубой are different shades of blue which are very important standalone colours in Russia. You got any idea?

I guess 'light blue' or 'sky blue' vs. 'navy blue' ? :shrug: 

俺の勝利は揺るぎない

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