“The best argument against democracy is a five — minute conversation with the average voter,” once said Winston Churchill about his countrymen. If Churchill miraculously rose from the dead and got the chance on five minutes with a modern average Russian voter, he’d also heard a lot of arguments — arguments against the current state of the institution of elections in our state. In a country where the President decides so much, held every six years presidential elections should be seen as something paramount. Should, but not perceived. Everyone knows that Vladimir Putin’s victory is inevitable, and it is at the root kills the entire sport and the whole affair. But maybe, really, the intrigue is not dead, but we just can’t see her?
Modern Russian polls were taken to compare with a broken barometer, which always shows the same value. But suddenly this “barometer” of reality is not broken? Maybe it’s not in the device, and anomalous from the point of view of the classical theory of the political election atmosphere in the Russian state? In the minds of our creative class is firmly stuck the idea that the Central election Commission Ella Pamfilova is no better than the Central election Commission Vladimir Churov. The results of our elections because it is so complimentary to the government that they are so “creative” I think. But in the face of sociological service of the Fund Bulk, we have the “Central election Commission” fully independent and even hostile to the Kremlin. Why, then, this “Central election Commission” is also delivered by Putin’s rating at 78%? What is the solution of the phenomenon of Russian elections? And what this phenomenon can tell us about the underlying political processes in our society?
Elections and the subconscious: as we said “the collapse” of the Communist party
Sometimes what we think we want does not coincide with what we really want. If you ask the average Russian voter to announce the list of elected their most cherished desires, this short list might look something like this. The elections should be elections in their Western sense. The government should not be an eternal power. The opposition should not be the eternal opposition. Must be a real chance that the results of the elections, these forces will be swapped. Lovely wish list, I’m not arguing. From this list there’s only one problem: it reflects the conscious but not the subconscious desire of the Russian companies.
Here’s how the head of the sociological service VTSIOM Valery Fedorov told me these subliminal desire: “In Russia there is no request for change of government through elections. The company refers to the opposition solely as a tool of pressure on the government as a way to keep the power in the tone, push her to the right steps and actions. But this is not to underestimate the real significance of the elections for our political system. Election is the only recognized now by the population of Russia method of legitimation (legitimation) of power. Two other possible ways of legitimation of the power — transfer by inheritance or her power to seize a charismatic political leader — are no longer legal from the point of view of the majority of citizens of Russia”. At first reading such a ruthless “social psychoanalysis” is a deep inner protest. But if you look at the current political situation in the country through the prism, very much suddenly falls into place.
It becomes clear, for example, why in the predetermination of the outcome of the election result, the government so vehemently fights for increasing turnout. The Kremlin wants Putin’s winning percentage had the highest legitimacy in the eyes of society. Become apparent causes permanent weakness and amorphousness of the Russian opposition: who wants to forever play the role of not having the chance to come to power to tool pressure on the government? Becomes clear sense of the current political strategy of the Communist party, which has nominated a bright, fresh, but absolutely not prepared to govern the country of the candidate Pavel Grudinina. Zyuganov’s party is not fighting for power as such. The Communists fight for the maximum percentage of the opposition, for the right to be “the main opposition of his Majesty”.
However, the arrival of this understanding gives rise to new important questions: how and why we came to such a life? When we passed that fork of history, after which society unwittingly lost interest in changing the ruling elite? Start with the question, which is easier to answer: when? For a number of years in the 90s, our country experienced a period when the government was constantly in the drawing. The collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991 could or not happen at all or take place at another time and in another form. Putsch act more skillfully or more decisively, he could defeat Gorbachev and Yeltsin. In 1993, the Supreme Council Ruslan Khasbulatov, too, could defeat Yeltsin. In 1996 Gennady Zyuganov had a real chance to win the presidential election. But, I think, in 1996, the conservative trends in our society (conservative in the sense that any doubt is interpreted consistently in favor of the current government) for the first time showed itself in all growth.
The previous Putin’s audition candidates to succeed was to choose between Dmitry Medvedev and Sergey Ivanov. Members of the new casting will be much more.
Who in 1995 at the age of 22 years, Deputy of the State Duma on the list of the Communist party of Darya Mitina has long been not sitting on the hunter Series, but still very closely monitoring the situation in the Russian left movement. Here is her analysis of what happened to the party of Zyuganov: “the meaning of the activities of any party lies in its coming to power. If you rely on this wording, the Communist party in the late 90-ies ceased to be a party. This process was initiated in 1996 when Zyuganov merged the election of Yeltsin. Zyuganov congratulated Yeltsin on his election victory is still night, when there were counted all the votes, and in his first post-election press conference said: “If the other goes the bride, it is not known who were lucky.” Zyuganov was happy and satisfied with their loss. It was important for him not to win the election, and remain in the system. The same applies to all the current top of the Communist party. Kamikaze among them. All these people are only concerned about maintaining their current positions.”
Valery Fyodorov is convinced: “If the election of 1996 Zyuganov won, that would be very bad for the economy. But perhaps we would have gained much needed for our country to experience a peaceful transfer of power without a total war of all against all”. I with such position categorically does not agree. I am convinced that a Zyuganov victory would inevitably lead it to “total war of all against all”, which was said by the distinguished head of the Polls. But as “history does not tolerate subjunctive mood”, our argument is impossible and therefore unimportant.
Important, from my point of view is the following. Gennady Zyuganov in our political circles, it is customary to treat with slight disdain. They say that to take with him — a gray, faceless and unprincipled apparatchik! But the question is: is it a coincidence that this “grey and faceless apparatchik” walked back in 1993 two strong and influential candidates — Valentine Kuptsov and albert Makashov and headed instead a party that quickly turned into the main opposition force in the country? Is it a coincidence that “gray and faceless bureaucrat” manages to stay in the occupied political bridgehead for nearly a quarter of a century? I think that there are no coincidences. I believe that Gennady Zyuganov has at least one important attribute of any successful long-term political career: highly developed intuition, or if you prefer, “animal instinct”.
And that’s what it’s gut told Gennady Zyuganov somewhere in the second half of the 90s. the Russian policy is only two phases, or the power lying on the ground and it can catch someone who just jumped on the ticket, or even one who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Or the power is in the hands of the permanent political elite, headed recognized as the sole leader and any attempt to capture managerial levers are doomed to failure. If my hypothesis is true, Zyuganov very time felt that a “window of opportunity” was closing or had already closed, the first phase of Russian politics has changed to the second. And from this reasoning to the recognition of their “built in” the straight road.
Why our political system is only works in two phase mode? Why do we have either anarchy or a permanent power elite, which because of the inclinations of society is impossible to change through elections? Why do we not work to run-in the West, the usual political mechanisms? Perhaps the case in the monarchical mindset of the Russian society: in the old habit of having at the head of the country’s sole leader. Maybe it’s the instinctual understanding: such a great and “colorful” the composition of the country as Russia, in order not to collapse, must have strong power. Maybe it’s the traumatic experience of our revolution, the fear of a great and bloody repartition in case of change of imperious elite. Perhaps the root of the problem lies in the insufficient development of our economy, the lack of a strong middle class and that a new political culture always formed very slowly. Perhaps it in all of the above plus something else.
To the absolute truth we still are not dig. And whether you want to get? Not simply whether we will be restricted to the recognition of an objective political reality — the reality in which Putin will win the next presidential elections and to transfer power to his successor a few years later?
According to the results of the 1996 presidential election in Russia could really change the power. But wasn’t it the exception that proves the rule?
Memories of the future
Shortly before his third consecutive victory in parliamentary elections, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said: “there will Come a time when your chance will have to get more young people. But if I said this from the very beginning, everything would have reasoned like this: “Maggie will leave before the fourth election, and who will come, do not know.” Now, I want to make this clear: I will come!”The reality was quite different. For a year and a half before the next parliamentary elections led by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party rose up and ousted her from office. “More young people got the chance” in the Premiership without any direct involvement by “the iron lady”.
Vladimir Putin can not be afraid that it will happen something similar. The Russian political rules of the game are such that the President will retain all of the real volume of their authority right up to the moment of succession. But it will not make a shift change in the Kremlin emotionally easier — neither for the country nor for himself. GDP will escape the humiliation through which I had to pass Margaret Thatcher. He will not know the psychological shock caused by the sudden and rapid loss of power. However, did Thatcher or not, her humiliation was a positive side. “Iron lady” did not lay down the burden of responsibility for choosing the right successor and further development of the country. Vladimir Putin from such a burden of responsibility to get rid of will not succeed — neither before nor after his departure from power. And the weight of this is just devastating, you might say, even almost unbearable.
At the beginning of this article I quoted the words of the head of VTsIOM Valery Fyodorov that the transfer of power in Russia by inheritance will not be seen as legal citizens of our country. This is certainly true thesis must make an important clarification. Valery Fedorov is referring to the dynastic transfer of power from father to son or daughter. In Azerbaijan, this option worked. On the eve of the presidential elections of October 2003, the terminally ill leader of this state Heydar Aliyev stated that he withdrew his candidacy in favor of his son Ilham. As the official version of history, the inhabitants of the Republic listened to the call of their leader. According to the local CEC, the elections, Ilham Aliyev won 79% of the vote. In Russia, this option is excluded. Society will not accept him.
But if the transfer of power by inheritance to mean a situation where the outgoing head of state chooses the successor from members of his family, the layout is different. This is not just a passing — only possible in modern Russian political reality. I am hurt and hate to write these lines. But the other working mechanisms of selection of candidates following the country’s leader in our state do not yet exist.
As mentioned above, the presidential elections feature such a mechanism not be able to perform. They can only “sanctify”, to approve the coming to power of the candidate from the ruling elite. But our elite is ruling only in that measure in what it allows is the current President. Elite is not able to choose a new leader. It can only make the choices that she will make the head of state, whose term of office expires. In this sense, Vladimir Putin is the only truly important Russian voter — a voter which, by the way, without much noise had already started “private casting candidates.”
“Opposition by his Majesty”: Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky have long been fighting not against the government, and for maintaining its place in the system.
GDP is a very important political feature. He can’t stand the personnel changes that are not in his eyes is absolutely necessary. For example, if you count from the moment of turning Putin into a full-fledged President of the Russian Federation in may 2000, since then in Russia there were only two Ministers of Finance and two Ministers of foreign Affairs. For comparison: in the United States during this period was replaced by seven heads of financial departments and six — foreign policy. So when last year in Russia for no apparent obvious reason suddenly began a mass replacement of governors, many observers were, to say the least, surprised.
Originally in Russian official circles, went the theory that the initiator of such a steep personnel changes had recently come to the position of the Kremlin curator of internal policy Sergey Kiriyenko. But the interlocutors in the immediate environment GDP has assured me that it is not so: waving “staff sword” began the President. What is behind this radical change in Putin’s habits? Partly, of course, the approaching presidential elections in 2018. Any political strategist knows that if you can’t change a candidate, change his environment. With “the infusion of fresh blood” into the ruling elite, Putin renews and “rejuvenate” its image ahead of the upcoming presidential election.
But these considerations are, in my opinion, minor. But what is paramount. Putin initiated the formation of a new generation of managers, from whose ranks he would later choose his successor. Of course, to be this generation is not only young governors. Not the fact that after the next presidential election in Russia will have a new Prime Minister. With equal probability Medvedev may change jobs and stay in this position for some part of the next Putin’s term. But the Cabinet of Ministers in any case expect a radical upgrade. The government and other management structures, while maintaining a certain number of “required veterans” also add “young and promising”.
Thus Putin will organize an informal “race of successors”. They say, show what you are capable of, young people! And I will choose the best of you — choose and recommend the next President of Russia! After that, the population of the country will be invited to endorse Putin’s decision on new presidential elections. And with great probability such approval will be obtained. In the history of Russia will begin a new era — new but with the same political mechanisms.
I really don’t like the scenario described above. However, with all his burning desire I can’t find him alternative. Theoretically, such an alternative would be a presidential election in their Western version. But in the foreseeable future, this theory has no real chance of becoming practice. The foundations of the political culture of a society cannot be changed quickly. Even under the best scenario it will take several decades. Throughout this period, Russia will have to live in conditions of “manual control”.
I repeat: this is not a perspective that I would like for their country. But the opportunity to “have it all” — competitive presidential elections, the country is, unfortunately, no. We have only the option to zoom in or zoom out the desired goal. And if we are, I hope, will choose the first, society needs to rethink its current attitude towards elections. It’s time to stop the blame on the government, reflecting on the reasons for “underdevelopment” of the Russian elections. We need to remember that power is an integral part of the society, its mirror. “Every nation has the government it deserves,” he wrote in 1811, Sardinian envoy at the Russian court Joseph de Maistre. The same can be said about elections. We deserve those presidential elections to be held in Russia in 2018. It’s a shame, but it’s true.
“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. What really matters is the courage to continue,” he said as Winston Churchill. If you think in scales of decades, my main fear regarding the election is that we don’t find ourselves in this “courage to continue”. We can’t give up on the institution of elections — not least because the election is still no alternative. Let me give you another quote of Churchill’s — the last one for today: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing optimism.” I passionately believe that if we do not lose optimism, that someday we will get those choices that you want. It is important to stay off the road.
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