By Paul Goble
Georgy Satarov, a former advisor to Boris Yeltsin who now comments frequently on current Russian politics, says that the results of the Duma elections now taking place in the Russian Federation will show who will be the country’s president three years from now.
If Putin’s United Russia wins an impressive victory, he suggests, that will mean that the Russian people have voted for stability and there won’t be a change in the top position. But if that party doesn’t do well – and the growing number of people who plan to vote suggests that could happen – then change becomes more likely (ura.news/articles/1036282986).
Satarov says he “would compare a social institution like elections with muscles in the human body. If they aren’t used, they atrophy. But if sportsmen actively develop them, they gain as a result. That is the way it is with voting.” And by voting one can send a message and make the act of participation more influential.
“Elections are that civic institution which is called upon to defend society from stupidity and tyranny,” he says. “When we don’t use them, the same thing happens with elections that happens with muscles that are neglected. They atrophy for us and work for others. And we citizens have only one chance to force this institution to work for us. We must actively use it.”
Some Russians mistakenly believe that there is no sense in voting because the powers have already decided on the outcome. But those who think that way do so only because they do not recognize how important elections are when it comes to issues of changing officials at the top, Satarov continues.
Fortunately, Russians are figuring this out; and that’s why far more of them are saying they will vote than did only six months ago. But in addition to providing signals as to the general direction society wants the country to move it, they are “important for another reason: they lead to changes as such.”
“If voters cast their ballots for the party of power, this means that they support stability and the course of Vladimir Putin.” In the past, his standing and that of United Russia were not so closely intertwined but now they are; and that by itself constitutes a real risk for Putin himself in these elections.
If the results go one way, he will remain in power without any significant challenge; if they go in another, he may remain but he will be challenged by those who are confident that the people, that is, the voters, want change in the direction the country is going.