On September 17-19, Russia held the eighth State Duma election. The voting time for this election was changed from one day to three days. Although this is due to the epidemic, it is mainly intended to change the ultra-low voter turnout rate of 47.88% in the 2016 Duma election. The election achieved the expected goals of the regime and also reflected the basic characteristics of Russia’s transformation and development in the 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Election goals have been achieved
On August 16, the Central Election Commission of Russia (referred to as the Russian-Chinese Election Commission) officially confirmed that a total of 14 political parties will participate in the election of the State Duma. This election still adopts a mixed election system, that is, 225 seats are elected according to the proportional representation system of the entire Federal District; 225 seats are elected through a single-seat constituency majority election system.
According to the final statistics released by the Russian-Chinese Election Commission on September 24, the results of the Russian federal district elections are as follows: the “United Russia” party has 49.82% of the votes; the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is 18.93%; the Russian Liberal Democratic Party is 7.55%; Russia-For the Truth” Party is 7.46%; Newcomers Party is 5.32%. According to the law, a party that crosses the 5% vote threshold in the election enters the Russian State Duma. The results of the single-seat constituency elections showed that the “United Russia” Party won 198 seats; the Communist Party of the Russian Federation won 9 seats; the “Just Russia-For Truth” Party won 8 seats; the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia won 2 seats; the Fatherland Party, the Growth Party and the Citizens Platform The party and the five self-nominated independent candidates without party affiliation each received a seat in a single constituency.
Based on the above results, the new State Duma’s seats are allocated as follows: The “United Russia” party accounts for 324 seats. Although the party lost 19 seats compared with the 2016 election, it still maintains an absolute majority of seats in the constitution. In addition, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation won 57 seats; the “Just Russia-For Truth” party won 27 seats; the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia won 21 seats. The three parties won 42 seats, 23 seats and 39 seats in the last session. The Newcomer Party, established in 2020, won 13 seats and entered the State Duma for the first time.
On October 12, the new Russian State Duma began operation. The “United Russia” party occupies eight seats in the leading body of the State Duma. Volodin, the candidate for the chairman of the State Duma, elected by the party, was re-elected as the chairman of the State Duma, and the first vice chairman of the State Duma is also a member of the party. At the same time, the party occupies key positions in the State Duma, such as the chairman of the legislative and security committees.
The victory of the ruling party “United Russia” in the Duma election will directly affect Putin’s post-election Russian political layout, laying the political foundation for Putin’s national governance before 2024 and the formation of the Russian presidential election in 2024. To a certain extent, ensure the national security and stability of Russia in the “post-Putin era”. Therefore, this election is an important part of Putin’s overall solution to the “2024 problem” (Putin’s fourth presidential term will end in 2024, how Russia’s supreme power will transition).
Specifically, the essence of Russia’s 2020 constitutional amendment is to ensure the stability of Putin’s long-term political situation, and to escort the stability and long-term development of the “strong presidential model” from the system; while this year’s State Duma election is about personnel matters. This will be an important step in Russia’s personnel adjustment before 2024 to achieve Russia’s future long-term stability of the elite foundation. The Duma election will not only ensure the dominant position of the “United Russia” party, but will also determine after the election the candidates for the chairman of the State Duma and the leaders of the parliamentary party groups who closely cooperate with the ruling authorities. All levels ensure the continuity of the “Putin Road”. Up to now, no matter from the final result of the election or the operation of the new Duma, the above goals have been achieved.
The election results show three outstanding features
The results of the Duma election present three outstanding features: the “United Russia” party continues to occupy a dominant one-party position; compared with the 2016 election, the total number of votes in the Russian Federation has risen sharply; and the New People’s Party, which has only been established for more than a year, has sprung up.
Before the election, the “United Russia” party’s popular support rate was only maintained at about 30%, but the party finally achieved the expected goals of the regime and maintained the majority of seats in the constitution. This was mainly due to the Putin regime’s political design and social and people’s livelihood. The force.
From the perspective of political design, it is mainly concentrated in three aspects: eliminating the influence of the Navalline incident, controlling the political public space, and ensuring the maximum effectiveness of the Duma election principles. The continuation of the election principles in favor of the “United Russia” party is the core measure. First, with the increase in the number of political parties and the participation of a large number of small parties in elections, competition between opposition parties has become increasingly fierce, especially as part of the votes of opposition parties in the Duma have been scattered to varying degrees. At the same time, relying on Putin’s influence on voters, and with the active cooperation of the “All-Russian People’s Front”, a social movement supporting Putin, the “United Russia” party was not affected by a large number of small parties in the election. Secondly, the parliamentary election law previously lowered the threshold for political parties to enter the parliament from 7% to 5%, but at the same time it strictly prohibited political parties from forming coalitions to participate in elections. Third, the political parties are allowed to add no more than 50% of non-party members to the party election list. The “United Russia” party makes full use of this provision. The party included a large number of people from all walks of life and representatives of other parties in its election list, expanding the party’s social influence. Fourth, the “United Russia” party has strong administrative resources and sufficient campaign funds. The mixed election method is more conducive to the “United Russia” party to exert its electoral advantages, especially in single-seat electoral districts.
From the perspective of social and people’s livelihood, during the epidemic in Russia, the people’s livelihood policy was tilted to disadvantaged groups to ensure the stability of the people’s mentality. The State of the Union address delivered by Putin on April 21 is the main indicator that Russia’s livelihood policy is tilted towards disadvantaged groups. Not only that, in the 2020 constitutional amendment, Article 75 of the Russian Constitution added three items related to people’s livelihood. This is really rare: The Russian Federation respects citizens’ labor and guarantees their rights; the state guarantees that the minimum wage is not lower than that of Russia. The basic living expenses of all residents of the Federation; the Russian Federation establishes a citizen pension system in accordance with the principles of universality, fairness and solidarity, and supports its effective operation. Russian legislation guarantees that the minimum labor remuneration and minimum pension are not lower than the “poverty line”, which has a significant effect on stabilizing Russian social sentiment.
The reason why the Russian Communist Party’s votes have risen sharply is mainly related to the commonality of world political development in the post-epidemic era, the characteristics of Russia’s internal political ecology, and the stability of the Russian Communist Party’s own program. The basic support for the Russian Communist Party is the class that relies on the state to provide social security but are dissatisfied with the “United Russia” party. The New People’s Party was established in March 2020. Its chairman Nechaev is a member of the Central Committee of the All-Russian People’s Front. In a sense, the party is also a pro-government political force. The party is positioned as a youth party, claiming to represent the interests of young Russian groups. In the context of the post-Soviet generation and the Putin generation successively stepping onto the political stage and occupying one-third of the electorate base, the New People’s Party not only has the support of the regime, but also can make up for the current regime’s policy weaknesses in the youth field. Therefore, its prospects are affected. Many people are optimistic, this is also a key factor for the party to enter the State Duma.
The political background of the election and its reflected political characteristics
The election of the State Duma was held in the context of Russia’s constitutional amendment in 2020. The adjustment of the power of the State Duma is also one of the important contents of the constitutional amendment. Compared with the 2008 and 2014 constitutional amendments, this constitutional amendment is not a technical amendment to a specific link in the constitution, but a comprehensive adjustment of the country’s basic system and its operating mechanism, including politics, ethnicity, culture, society, Institutional mechanisms, laws and regulations in various fields such as diplomacy involve unprecedented scope in the field of national governance. They are intertwined, forming a set of closely-connected and coordinated national systems, reflecting Putin’s 20 years of power in Russia’s national governance. Recognition and achievement. Therefore, in a sense, the current constitution revised in 2020 has distinct “Putin characteristics.” The “Putin characteristics” have actually become the fundamental political background for the election of the State Duma. So, how did the “Putin characteristics” come into being?
After the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, world politics has experienced a process of development from identity to diversity, resonating with this characteristic of world politics, and Russian politics has also experienced a development process from Westernization to Russification. What best reflects the process of Russification is the evolution of his philosophy of governance: from Yeltsin’s “one-sided” “Euro-Atlanticism” to the West in the early days of Yeltsin’s administration to Yeltsin’s “seeking national ideas” after the Russian presidential election in 1996, and then to the Putin era. “New Russian Thought”, “Sovereign Democracy” thoughts, Russian conservatism and “Putinism”, and this year Russia put forward the concept of “cultural sovereignty” in the new version of the “National Security Strategy”.
On September 17, 2021, the election of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) officially began, and people went to the polling station to vote.
In the process of gradual establishment of the development model of Russification, Russia’s national governance has experienced a process from nationality to national autonomy. “Nationality” is a concept that Yeltsin put forward in the President’s State of the Union address in 1994, and it means “restoring the Russian state system.” And Russia’s political construction has experienced a process from state building to state capacity building. Today, if we rank the capabilities of Russia’s four major countries, the order is: the coercive ability to maintain a dominant position in various ways ranks first; the ability to seek political consensus, to consolidate the legalization of the dominant position, and the ability to mobilize social and economic resources. Ranked second and third; the regulation and control ability to guide social and economic development ranks fourth. In other words, the capabilities of other countries in Russia depend on political capabilities, and political power has a dominant position. This kind of control over political capacity building is embodied in the 2020 constitutional amendment. Putin’s governance measures were finally solidified in the Russian Constitution in legalized language, realizing that the state power organization system, state structure and national security system are intertwined, forming a set of closely connected and coordinated national systems. The high degree of centralization and unity of the president’s power, the unitary facts of the federal operating mechanism, and the overall coordination of national security form an organic whole and complement each other, forming a self-consistent unity of Putin’s characteristic national governance system. However, this self-consistent unity is a unity of opposites, because the high degree of unity of Russia’s political resources and the checks and balances of the separation of powers in the design of the political organization system and the decentralization of the federal system have formed a de facto contradiction. Fundamentally, this contradiction is a dislocation between the Russian institutional cultural tradition and the institutional program design. Russia resolves this dislocation by adjusting and reshaping its political operating mechanism. That is to say, under the condition that the basic system of the country remains unchanged, the authorities will make timely adjustments to the country’s governance model and system operation mechanism, so as to continuously adapt to changes in the situation.
Regarding the political characteristics of Russia, on the whole, Russian politics has undergone complicated developments in the past 30 years, and now it has returned to the most familiar traditions in Russia. This tradition is that although the state form of Russia has different performances in different historical periods, its internal essence is the same, that is, the historical structural elements of the Russian state are the same, and they all highlight the importance of strong-willed leaders as the supreme power. . This model, from an internal point of view, means that Russia has a governance system with very strong political control, but currently its governance performance is diminishing due to internal and external factors. Therefore, the ruling team needs to solve many challenges arising from this model itself. . Externally, the characteristics of current world politics have strengthened Russia’s introverted and conservative international outlook, and the strengthening of the international outlook has further solidified Russia’s political model. From the “New Thoughts on Russian Foreign Policy” issued by the Russian University of Economics last year to the new version of the “National Security Strategy” this year, it is believed that the world is encountering a systemic crisis and is in a structural process of global transformation. In the context of this era, Russia must rely on its own civilization model, historical geography and cultural genes to play its due role.