Lessons from the Elections of MP and the President in Russia
This paper deals with the analysis of political processes and changes in social life and politics during 15 years passed since the beginning of Perestroika. The macroeconomic, domestic and external political factors, that were crucial in changing the political and economic systems of the USSR are analyzed. The analysis of changes in political system is provided and differences in political system of modern Russia from that of in countries with developed democracy are shown.
Having the experience of a few elections as an example, the evolution of elections from 1989 to 2000 is analyzed. To describe these processes the author use the term “resource”. This term is used to describe the sources, real means and hidden facilities, available to perform different actions aimed at stabilizing the position of social and political participants. or to do similar metamorphosis – the transition from one state to another, more comfortable for them and consistent with their notions of their role i.e.: the will of political elite, or administrative resource of the “party of authority”, that determines the actual political direction in the country; spiritual resources – new ideas; institutional resource as new parties and movements; financial resource – money; informational resource – the presence of alternative means of mass media.
The election model of the “childhood” of Russian democracy in 1989, 1990 and 1991 can be called semi-administrative-team, definitely-personal and weakly structural.
The personality of the candidate himself was the main resource during those elections. And the main theme of political choice that was offered: either the more effective and more democratic development of socialistic origins on the way to communism, or non-communist way of development.
The election of 1993 to MP of the first call with participation of the newly formed parties reminded the structured, organized-party model, because the party-politics resource was used for the first time along with administrative-authoritarian that was gaining strength.
During the MP election campaign of 1995 the money resource of financial and business structures was present, besides the party-politics one.
The model of these elections reminded the market model. New social institutions for the first time tried to firmly present their interests in the lower house of parliament – the State Duma – with monetary infusions into their candidates.
The model of Presidential elections of 1996 can be precisely called as mixed – administrative-authoritarian and market. All resources of the state authority and largest financial-industrial groups were used in this elections-battle.
Many participants were able to win the elections of 1996 and 1999 with the help of three cornerstones such as authority, financial and information resources. The latest elections showed once again, that the information space is controlled on all levels, including regional ones.
The politicized media-holdings and groups were formed, showing their ability to gather around one powerful center (presidential elections of 1996 and 2000), as well as readiness to support various candidates and groups during MP elections. The financial groups and media-holdings were wisely invest their money into few most “promising” candidates, groups and organizations.
The periods, during which the completely new political block can become well known were overthrown due to use of information technologies. Thus, the “Unity” became one of the most popular political parties during only three months, still remaining the unknown for the electorate and publishing its program only before the elections. The mass media was responsible to such abrupt dynamics of the changes in political knowledge of the voters.
With all side effects of the passed five federal elections (1993, 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2000) and few of the local elections a number of positive sides should be noted:
the elections became the most important procedure in the society, helping to institutionalize the people representation, legitimize the political power, changes of elite and solution of controversies accumulated in the society using peaceful way;
the possibility to return to socialism disappeared, but the hope for social-democratic society still possible, if the communist party of Russian Federation – CPRF can provide some actions for it.
Participation in the elections contributed to the political culture not only candidates for various positions, but also that of a mass media, authority structures and all the society. The broad experience is accumulated, which is now being summarized. The laws, technologies and methods for elections fights are being improved.
In general this is a positive process, since the society becomes more experienced with each election and becomes more democratic and electorate becomes more rigorous.
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