03 December 2007

Putin wins big

There were no surprises in yesterday's parliamentary elections in Russia, with Putin's United Russia winning 315 out of 450 seats in the State Duma. Nevertheless, the opposition parties are crying foul. Presidential aspirant and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov has gone so far as to call the contest a struggle against tyranny, recounting his own experience in a Moscow jail. How are the Russian people taking this apparent return to Soviet-era tactics? Pre-election opinion polls gave little cause for optimism, according to this National Post article: "Public opinion polls show Mr. Putin enjoys an 84% approval rating and almost 50% of voters say they wouldn't mind if he became president for life." The lesson? Old habits die hard, and political cultures do not change overnight. Indeed it may take centuries.

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