« Huckabee, Obama Surge into the Lead in Iowa |
Blog Home Page
| Further commentary on hunting »
December 2, 2007
No Surprises Predicted in Russian Election
Thanks to almost total control of the media along with restrictions on opposition parties that are considered most undemocratic, Vladmir Putin's United Russia Party is widely expected to trounce the opposition and gain a landslide victory in elections to the Russian Duma being held today:
Putin -- who cannot seek a third presidential term under Russia's constitution -- has said he would consider taking the prime minister's post if his party achieves a landslide victory in Sunday's voting but his future duties and powers are unclear. Putin's bid for the post of Prime Minister would come on the heels of electing one of his cronies President. This would ensure Putin's continued iron control of the country for the foreseeable future.
Putin holds the top spot on United Russia's list of candidates, which guarantees him a seat in parliament. Under Putin, once-impoverished Russia has become rich with oil revenue and powerful on the world stage while the war against separatists in Chechnya has faded from view.
All of this has made him popular with many Russians. "We believe in Putin, and we love Putin dearly," Tamara Posekhova, a mass-goer at the Moscow cathedral told The Associated Press. "We want him to go on working for the country."
But the election has been marred by controversy as opposition parties have accused the government of stifling their campaign efforts and independent election monitors have said their work has been hampered.
The opposition leader with the highest profile, former chess champion and national hero Gary Kasparov, has called the election "a farce." Not only has the state controlled media ignored the opposition but petty restrictions on opposition gatherings and organizing have virtually assured a huge win for Putin today.
Until the opposition can unite (there are 10 different parties) and present a solid front to block Putin, it is likely that Russia will be a democracy in name only while Putin continues to amass all the power he can.