Posted 8 октября 2021, 13:55

Published 8 октября 2021, 13:55

Modified 24 декабря 2022, 22:36

Updated 24 декабря 2022, 22:36

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The right of the strong in the Russian government. Who benefits from mistrust in elections?

8 октября 2021, 13:55
Public opinion polls show that after the parliamentary elections, society was divided in half: almost half of Russians believe that the last elections were dishonest. Could this be a problem for the current government?

Victoria Pavlova

Polls by the Levada Center* show that 46% of Russians consider the elections to be fair, and almost the same, 45%, as dishonest. These results are radically different from those after the 2016 vote. Then only 31% of Russians did not believe in the results obtained. At the same time, hardly anyone doubts the victory of United Russia: even an independent study by the same Levada shows that more than 38% of Russians are ready to vote for the ruling party. So what are people unhappy with? And how will this affect the actions of the authorities? Novye Izvestia was looking for answers to these questions together with Russian political scientists.

"In my opinion, these figures are absolutely devastating, because they show that there is simply no mass dominance of faith in the official institutions of elections. In conditions when this discourse is absent in the official field from the word "absolutely", when the official discourse is absolutely monotonous, homogeneous and does not imply any doubts at all, having a half of the population that does not believe in the results is a complete disaster", - Alexander Kynev believes.

But where did this mistrust come from? Maybe it's all about falsifications, stuffing and other methods of cheating? Political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin is sure that there is no reason - mistrust has been accumulating over the years.

"The decline in confidence in the elections has been developing for a long time. So it is impossible to single out one reason. They accumulate, overlap each other and result in a gradual increase in the number of people who do not trust the elections. At the same time, public opinion is very highly segmented. Those who voted for United Russia can quite sincerely believe that the elections were fair, because the force they sympathize with won. And this is typical for everyone. Opponents of United Russia, in particular, supporters of the communists, believe that the elections were rigged. The truth is that the elections were largely rigged, but not entirely. But the question is in the perception of public opinion, because in Soviet times the elections were falsified to a much greater extent, showed a result of 99.9%, but public opinion and sociocultural background were organized in such a way that this topic was not discussed at all. As well as the figures for the regions were not reported. The minutes were not published. Now they are published, and 99.7% show only Chechnya. Now, at least, we can say that the elections were rigged - in Soviet times, there was simply a direct road to prison for this. The elections are really rigged to a large extent, the question of which sturgeon - the first freshness or the second freshness - is incorrect in relation to the elections, they are either honest or dishonest. In this case, they are dishonest, although, again, not everywhere and not always. Public perception is simply arranged - either you believe it or you don’t believe it. Half believe, half don't believe".

Or maybe this is all the pernicious influence of the West? After all, if you watch TV, then there are only continuous enemies around us, who certainly want the speedy death of Russia. They organize the subversive activities of foreign agents who in every possible way influence the opinion of the people. But Alexander Kynev is in no hurry to overestimate the influence of public organizations.

"First of all, personal life experience had a decisive influence on this alignment. No NGO has ever had any networks, not even closely comparable to TV channels. God forbid, 0.01% of the population has seen a living representative of Golos in their lives. Nobody knows the websites of Golos and other similar organizations, has not visited them, read them, and is not aware of them, but have seen the "wet" films. This suggests that people get the lion's share of information about our elections from life simply because they live in this country, because they have friends, relatives, because they know how they are forced to vote, because they know how they actually voted and how they calculated it, and so on. This had already become commonplace, turned into anecdotes of the late Brezhnev era: anything could be on TV, but everyone knew how it really was".

Political scientist and regional expert Mikhail Vinogradov believes that the main reason is that people do not feel involved in making decisions about who will rule.

"I think that a significant part of the population perceives the elections as a process organized by the authorities (and not a process at which the issue of power is decided) - hence the idea that the organizers of the process have control over it, especially since they win almost every time ... On the other hand, I am not convinced that citizens carefully monitor the election results - especially in single-mandate constituencies".

And the deception lies not only in falsifications during the elections themselves, but also after their completion. The CEC registered 66 State Duma deputies from United Russia on federal lists. At the same time, more than 60 candidates (only from United Russia!), Who were running as headliners, voluntarily resigned from their mandates. This is the entire federal list with Sergei Shoigu, Sergei Lavrov and Denis Protsenko, and all the governors. People voted for some and got others. According to Dmitry Oreshkin, this also had a significant impact on people's moods.

"72 candidates refused mandates - in general, they spit in the face of the voter. Yes, you chose some, while others will sit in the Duma. Well, to hell with you, you will be rubbed off. And yes, we’ll go to bed. But irritation builds up, and what is called "the capital of trust" melts. And this is the basis of a normal, modern, legal state. For 15 years we have been talking about the fact that the rule of law is being destroyed and the authoritarian power state is returning".

One way or another, but the task of any election, even if there is not much to choose from, is to ensure legitimacy. "Regular elections are a source of confirmation of legitimacy, because no power rules by force, it rules by consent", - Yekaterina Shulman told Novye Izvestia. Even if people did not vote for the winner, they should understand that behind the ruling party there is a people expressing support. People should understand that there is nothing to complain about unpopular decisions - they themselves chose such legislators. But everything changes when the people do not believe in the election results. Alexander Kynev believes that this is a catastrophic situation.

- This level of confidence in the elections, of course, is completely insufficient for legitimacy. From the point of view of trust in the elections, this is a disaster. This suggests that if something happens, no one will give a broken penny for this power, no one will come out to defend it from the word “absolutely”. It is a rotten tree that has completely rotted, which no one needs, but no one wants it to fall on top of it, no one believes in it, and no one considers it young and green. The authorities understand all this perfectly, hence the hysteria. The aggressiveness of public statements is directly proportional to the understanding that no one believes in anything anymore. Only forceful methods of influence remained. A year ago, a plebiscite on amendments to the Constitution was, in my opinion, a symbolic transition of legitimacy from electoral to force. And the fact that now - in my opinion, people perceive it as violence that must be experienced.

And Alexander Kynev is not alone in the opinion that now all the doors are open for a forceful model of government. Dmitry Oreshkin believes that in the future even greater influence of the security forces is possible.

"The situation is very bad, because society is losing the capital of trust in the existing institutions of power. This means that in a crisis situation it will be impossible to rely on these institutions. This means that in a crisis situation, power will rely on force, and not on legality. According to the constitution, if something happens to the president, according to the law, the duties of the head of state are performed by Prime Minister Mishustin, and he organizes elections, during which the people elect a new president. Thanks to at least the last 10 years of evolution, it is unlikely that someone will allow Mishustin to take the position of the head, because he does not have the power resource, but Patrushev does, and whoever dared and ate it. Secondly, whoever organizes elections receives their results thanks to the dynamics of the last one and a half to two decades. Accordingly, whoever seized power will ensure the correct election results. And this is a very nasty dynamic, because it means that from the Europeanized, legal, normal, legitimate way of transferring power, every year there are more and more chances to fall into a situation of illegitimate, illegal transfer according to the principle “The rifle gives rise to power”. Whoever has the power resource, the administrative resource, who is brave enough, seizes power. The hope that with the help of elections it will be possible to carry out this procedure fairly disappears after each election campaign, trust in state institutions is destroyed, be it parties, be it parliament, be it elections, be it a court, and more and more you have to trust who is the strength".

It turns out that the total distrust of the election results only plays into the hands of the siloviki: no one will support the legally elected government if something happens. The elections have finally turned into a farce, which does not provide support for the authorities, but only undermines the foundations of a cleaner foreign agent.

* The Ministry of Justice included the organization in the list of NPOs performing the function of a foreign agent in Russia