The Kremlin's Filter Facade

Source: Getty
Op-Ed The Moscow Times
Summary
Though political reforms in Russia are likely to be weakened even further and gubernatorial elections will be restricted by additional limits, the popular push for democracy continues to grow.
Related Topics
Related Media and Tools
 

According to the Kremlin, even the truncated watered-down reforms that President Dmitry Medvedev announced after mass protests broke out in December have been deemed excessive. As a result, Medvedev has introduced a series of bills that will weaken the reforms even further.

In early April, two governors, two regional Duma speakers and four mayors appealed to the president at his Gorki residence to introduce a regional filter for gubernatorial elections in addition to the presidential filter already in place. They presented their request as being motivated by their zeal for the common good, the idea being that unworthy candidates should be eliminated.

Nikolay Petrov was the chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Society and Regions Program. Until 2006, he also worked at the Institute of Geography at the Russian Academy of Sciences, where he started to work in 1982.
Nikolay Petrov
Scholar-in-Residence
Society and Regions Program
Moscow Center
More from this author...
This charade was staged to help Medvedev save face. Anyone who interprets these events as meaning that the "liberal" Medvedev is struggling against dark political forces should take note that the president himself added two lines that significantly undermined his own proposed reforms.

First, each municipal deputy can support only one gubernatorial candidate — a measure that invalidates the argument that a new filter is needed to cull out unwanted gubernatorial candidates.

Second, authorities want to consolidate the two election days per year to one unified election day for all of the country's races. The only problem is that the proposed day will be in early September. The tactical goal is to push back gubernatorial elections one year, and the strategic goal is to hold elections on the sly, when many people are away on holiday. This is exactly the trick St. Petersburg authorities pulled last year when Valentina Matviyenko, now the Federation Council speaker, was elected during the height of the vacation season in two small, easily controllable municipalities.

It seems likely that we will get presidential filters in one form or another, despite the fact that it violates the basic principles of federalism. For a country such as Russia that claims to be governed by the rule of law, it sounds more than a little strange for Duma deputies to announce that "the president should definitely have the right to veto the nomination of gubernatorial candidates, including those who could threaten national security because of their links to extremist organizations." By the way, these statements are being made by the same people who in 2004 paved the way for the appointment of governors by arguing that it was necessary after the Beslan school terrorist attack to prevent criminals and feckless populists from coming to power.

By creating yet another system designed to orchestrate election results in hopes of keeping this or that governor in office, the Kremlin is making the mistake of giving greater importance to short-term results than to the long-term benefits of the democratic process itself. But even this approach is a blessing in disguise. On the one hand, governors under the new system would have to travel to municipalities to engage in a dialogue with local politicians. On the other hand, all candidates — even those whom the new system would prevent from registering — will have a guaranteed audience among municipal deputies.

In the end, however, this strategy will surely backfire. Kremlin-backed candidates, including incumbent governors, will inevitably lose an increasing number of elections — not necessarily because they are opposed by strong rivals, but for the simple reason that voters are tired of this regime and its incessant desire to remain in power for as long as possible.

This article originally appeared in The Moscow Times.

End of document
Source http://carnegie.ru/2012/04/17/kremlin-s-filter-facade/alsi

More from The Global Think Tank

In Fact

 

45%

of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.

30%

of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.

140

charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.

2.5–5

thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.

92%

of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.

$2.34

trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.

37%

of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.

72%

of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.

90%

of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.

13%

of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.

17

U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.

40%

of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.

120

million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.

60–70%

of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.

58%

of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.

67%

of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.

50%

of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.

18%

of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.

81%

of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.

32

million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3

Syrians

now needs urgent assistance.

370

political parties

contested India’s last national elections.

70%

of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.

70%

of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.

20%

of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.

58%

of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.

$536

billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.

$100

billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.

4700%

increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.

$11

billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2%

of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.

78

journalists

were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

Stay In The Know

Enter your email address in the field below to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
 
 
Carnegie Moscow Center
 
16/2 Tverskaya Moscow, 125009 Russia
Phone: +7 495 935-8904 Fax: +7 495 935-8906
Please note...

You are leaving the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy's website and entering another Carnegie global site.

请注意...

你将离开清华—卡内基中心网站,进入卡内基其他全球中心的网站。