Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/513/3511
UNLIKE THE referendum vote in Venezuela, the 'landslide' victory of president Putin's United Russia party in the country's general election last Sunday came as no surprise. United Russia secured over 64% of the votes and two pro-Putin parties won 16% between them. The 'communist' party won just under 12%.
With most opposition parties legally neutered, no independent TV media, powerful regional governors appointed by Putin, and the accumulation of huge state revenues from gas and oil production, the election outcome was a foregone conclusion.
Yet despite these advantages it seems that Putin was taking no chances over the result. Election sweeteners included offering free lottery scratchcards to young voters, free food and drink, and bussing young people around polling stations to cast multiple votes.
State workers were also 'encouraged' to vote for Putin. And, in an echo of the days of Stalinism, in Chechnya the turnout was officially recorded as 99%!
The size of Putin's parliamentary majority will enable him to amend the constitution should he wish. But notwithstanding any changes Putin has already hinted that he would like to become Prime Minister in the Duma (parliament) after his second presidential term ends.
Putin boasts that he has brought stability, prosperity and restored Russia national pride after the president Yeltsin years - in which the restoration of capitalism spelt disaster for most people's living standards as industry collapsed, culminating in the economic meltdown of 1998.
However, while a pro-Putin oligarchy has benefitted from the country's recovery this upswing has bypassed most Russians. The glaring inequalities between Russia's billionaires and ordinary workers is partially reflected in the increase in strikes - the result of growing inflation (over 11%) which is further eroding living standards. The strikes include workers on the railways, Ford car plant, construction, steel and in healthcare.
In The Socialist 6 December 2007:
Workplace news and analysis
What we think
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review
Post Office and CWU