bneChart: The power of ruling parties

By bne IntelliNews December 15, 2011

bne -

With all this talk of revolution and vote rigging, bne thought it a would be good idea to compare Russia's voting record with the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The chart below shows the shares won by the powers-that-be in the more recent presidential and parliamentary elections. In keeping with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's "managed democracy" system, Russia falls somewhere in the middle on the "despot-o-meter" between democracy and dictator. You can roughly divide the rest of the CIS into two camps: those that have free elections and those that don't.

Turkmenistan takes the golden biscuit for not even attempting to pretend it has a democracy. The ironically named "The Democratic Party of Turkmenistan" that supports the president won every seat on offer in the last elections in February 2010 and controls 100% of the legislature.

Still, Turkmenistan's president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, is a bit more modest than fellow dictators Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov and Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev, in that he only arranged to win 89.2% of the vote in 2007, against Karimov's 90.7% and the 95.5% that Nazarbayev won earlier this year - making the Kazakh leader the most "popular" president in the CIS. Likewise, Azerbaijan produced 88.8% for the party of power in parliamentary elections and 87.3% for the incumbent president, which was on a par with Belarus (93.6% and 76.7%).

Happily, the second camp of open societies is growing, albeit slowly, with Mongolia (52.7%, 51.2%), Georgia (59.2%, 53.5%) and most recently Kyrgyzstan (na, 63.2%) holding real votes with real oppositions to produce real democracy.

Ukraine is nominally in the democratic camp, but is regressing fast. The ruling Party of Regions only won 34.4% in 2007 - the lowest rating of any ruling party in the CIS - and President Viktor Yanukovych only just beat opposition firebrand Yulia Tymoshenko with 48.9% in 2010. Since then, Yanukovych has worked hard to undo all the progress Ukraine has made over the past seven years since the Orange Revolution. Tymoshenko was thrown in jail and the Rada passed in December a revision to the electoral law that is bound to see the Party of Regions "improve" its standing in the general election next year.

Russia's parliamentary election result in December should put it in the democratic camp after United Russia only won 49.5%. But unlike the other members of this group, the process was clearly "managed," as there was no real opposition (other than the Communists) to vote for.

The presidential elections in March 2012 should be interesting, as it looks like the Kremlin has been forced to offer the voters a little (just a little) more choice than in 2008 when Dmitry Medvedev won a whopping 70.3% of the vote, which puts Russia at the low end of the dictatorial camp. While no-one doubts Putin will win in 2012 (and in the first round too), if the trend holds up he will probably get closer to 50% of the votes than 70%.

(download a high resolution copy of the chart here)

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