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Russia’s Elections and their Aftermath

Podcast Transcript Powerpoint

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About this Event

16 Jan 2012 @ 12:45

Download the audio podcast of the keynote speech here.

About the Speech:

In the 4 December 2011 State Duma elections incumbent Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin’s, United Russia party lost 77 seats, while its share of the vote fell from 64% in 2007 to 49%. Séamus Martin emphasised, however, that the full extent of the governing party’s losses were concealed by widespread “irregularities” in the conduct of the campaign, the voting and the count.

Although irregularities have existed in every Russian election, Mr. Martin and other commentators, as well as domestic and international observers, reported a marked increase on this occasion. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), a major international organisation that conducts electoral observation missions and which Mr. Martin has previously described as “beyond reproach”, strongly criticised the transparency and objectiveness of the elections. Mr. Martin gave a first-hand account of observers being prevented from seeing all stages of the process, instances of ballot box stuffing and significant inconsistencies between exit polls and official results. 

Dissatisfaction with the conduct and outcome of the elections has prompted the largest public demonstrations since the fall of the Soviet Union, with protestors calling for the results to be annulled. Organisers estimated that over 100,000 people attended the 24 December demonstration. A Levada poll of the demonstrators indicated that they are primarily young (80% under 55) and well educated (70% with third level education or higher). They have used modern technology and humour to spread their message and defy government control of the main media outlets. During the event, Mr. Martin played four videos to illustrate the tone of resistance sweeping the Internet:

United Russia and the Titanic

The Russian people turned to zombies

New Year’s wises from Brezhnev, Gorbachev and Putin

The Presidential race

Turning to the Presidential election scheduled for 4 March 2012, Mr. Martin predicted that United Russia will become more active online, as the Internet emerges as one of the new battlegrounds of Russian politics. Despite the recent unrest, his analysis is that the result of the Presidential election is not in doubt, as none of the challengers are strong enough to upset Mr. Putin’s plan to reclaim the Kremlin. However, Mr. Martin’s assessment is that if the current trends continue, Mr. Putin’s re-election in six years time is far from assured.

 

About the Speaker:

Séamus Martin is a former International Editor and Moscow Correspondent of the Irish Times. He returned in Russia to report on the December 2011 parliamentary elections. Mr. Martin’s five-part documentary, “Death of an Empire ”, began on Saturday, 7 January 2012 and is broadcast weekly on RTE Radio One at 7:30pm. 

Theme: The Wider Europe  Foreign Policy and ESDP 

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