NEWSWATCH: “Russian politics. The hollow election. The lowest-ever turnout for Duma elections suggests Vladimir Putin is losing touch with his political base.
The Economist reports on low participation in Russia’s 2016 Duma elections.
… The Kremlin made every effort to ensure the elections were as sterile and low-profile as possible. It banned and harassed genuine opposition parties and their leaders. … it persuaded many that nothing depended on voters. The official turnout was 48% – the lowest ever in the history of Russian elections. This average included several ethnic regions, such as Chechnya and Dagestan, where the turnout was an improbably high 80% or more. In the largest cities, such as Moscow and St Petersburg, only a third of voters cast their ballots, down from two-thirds five years ago. Alexei Navalny, an opposition politician who led the protests in 2011 and was barred from taking part in this election, told his followers: ‘You have not lost because this was not an election.’
The Economist goes on to suggest that: “… shutting out the opposition and marginalising even the tame Duma, the Kremlin is pushing Russian politics into unchartered and potentially dangerous territory,” turning the Duma into even more of a sham, even as labor protests have increased 22% since 2014, spawned largely by concerns over falling income and unpaid wages.
Russian politics are said to have pulled back even more into the realm of Kremlin cliques, accompanied by growing power for the FSB and reported plans to establish a state security agency with the same name held by the KGB under Stalin.