Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Something Fishy in Russia--No, not the Prostitutes

Honestly, it's kind of hard to
imagine a guy like this losing.
So the other day I was checking my activity and I noticed that I got a whopping (for me anyway) 637 views on Monday.  Calm down, it's only because I post fairly popular images.  If I actually had 637 people reading my blog then it'd be an entirely different story.  But anyway, further investigation revealed that my post "The Many Faces of Vladimir Putin" had the most hits.

So I went to look at the news and what not, and sure enough, Putin was in the headlines for winning Russia's presidential election.

As I have observed before, it's a little jacked up that a guy can serve as President for 8 years, Prime Minister for 4, and then turn around and get elected to the office of President again for another 4 years.  Doesn't it all seem a little fishy?

I mean, aside from the fact that there are allegations of voter fraud, isn't it a little strange that this man will have managed to stay in power 16 years once this term is up?  "No, look at FDR."  I guess it's a similar situation.  Russia hasn't been doing all that well lately.  They'v resorted to selling a lot of their older military technology to China (Sovremenny anyone?), and although they generate a lot of revenue from their natural resources, it's not like the people are living large.

This is how Russians campaign against their opposition.
And there's been a lot of opposition to Putin even running again.  The guy who served as Putin's Prime Minister while he was president is among the opposition leaders.  Why be opposed?  Because Putin represents Soviet Russia, a memory many are trying to forget.

Or are they?

Even if there was voter fraud, it's likely that the race would have been close, much like our presidential races when we consider the popular vote.  People are calling Putin's win a "land slide," but the truth of the matter is that he only got 58% of the vote.  It's highly unlikely that with a voter population as big as Russia's that he would have been able to pull off a fraud scam that would have influenced the vote by eight, whole percentage points.

In the Legislative elections alone, they calculated that approximately 64 million people voted.  For the sake of argument, lets assume that with the Presidential election, at least 64 million people voted.  Lets say that Putin only swayed the vote by 9%.  At that rate, he would have had to somehow get 5,760,000 votes to just appear out of thin air somehow.

And we're talking voter fraud, not election fraud.  Some people said they observed carousel voting, meaning people voting multiple times.  Even if every person out of that 9% voted 3 times each, that still would have been 1.9 million people that had to be organized enough to do this.

Putin is in red, the democratic process is in blue.
My point is that it's highly unlikely that he was able to sway the vote so drastically.  Perhaps there was a little voter fraud, but since he got well over 50% of the vote, even if there wasn't any fraud he likely would have still won, or come very close to winning.  The vote would have likely been split down the middle.

So what does this all mean?  Well, I think it means that the Russian people aren't as post-Cold-warish as we'd like to think.  The Communist party had the second highest plurality of votes in the Legislative elections, and there are three nationalist parties.  There's still a strong sense of nationalism running through Russia, and Putin represents stability and prestige for the country.

Toss in the fact that Putin is ex-KGB, then you have some good old-fashioned reasons to distrust Russia and the intentions of her leader.  It will be interesting to see where things go after his current 4 year term.


Anonymous said...

I am in two minds on this one Jack.

The first is yes i am sure there was some fraud but i also think that he probably won the vote. They are talking about probably around 52 or so. That the Russian constitution does not say that two-terms only but two-consecutive terms was probably forced in by the elite for this very situation; is it a good thing though?

The other side of me says that this may be a good thing. Russia, historically and as the old USSR has always required a strong man to run the mix/mess/monster called Russia. The various factions, hardened life-style or even modern day corruption and crime syndicates requires a strong-hand and at present the only one is Putin - even if we have to judge it by "better the enemy you know than the enemy you do not" - which very well may be the reason behind people voting him in.

Just some thoughts and sorry for the long-winded sentance.

D Charles

Jack Camwell said...

That's a good question, whether or not it's a good thing for Russia. I rightly don't know.

Part of me says that a country should be as democratic as possible, but democratic/republican societies are not always the most stable thing for some places.

What's scary about it, for me anyway, is the nationalist bent and the propensity to return to their old ways. I think a better world is one in which the US and Russia have a good relationship, and this kind of stuff sort of makes it difficult.

Jersey McJones said...

I think D Charles expresses the way most in the West view Putin and Russia today. I suppose I see it through those same lenses myself.

Just the same, I have the same concern you have, Jack - that the Bear might get restless again. And that's usually problematic for the rest of the world.

I hope Putin, when he does eventually get old and sick like everyone else, no matter how much money has, or what kind of gun he holds, or how much power he wields, will bequeath a functional government in Russia.

For Christ's sake, the country is a disaster area for business. My interactions with Russian businessmen was often just pathetic. I felt so sorry for them. Graft, bribery, extortion - and no government to protect them.

A modern American conservative's dream. Stupid, huh?


Silverfiddle said...

Much of this has to do with the psychology of the Russian people, who in modern times have perceived themselves to be hemmed in on all sides by groups wishing them harm.

They like strongman leaders, and Putin fits the part.

Demographically, they are dying. Low birth rate coupled with short life spans spell the slow death of the nation.

Harrison said...

But what about the Putin with a puppy photos. Those two looked so cute!

I'm just glad Obama called him and congradulated him on the victory.

Nate said...