Rl.Vladimir Putin was re-elected President of the Russian Federation on 18 March 2018 with 76.69% of the votes cast. Voter turnout was around 67%. The second-placed candidate is the communist Pawel Grudinin, he was able to tie in 11.77%. The clear election outcome leaves no doubt. Even small irregularities or a harder election campaign do not invalidate the election result.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
56 411 688
Pavel Nikolayevich Grudinin
8 659 052
Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky
4 155 022
Ksenia Anatolyevna Sobchak
1 237 692
Grigory Alexeyevich Yavlinsky
Boris Yurievich Titov
Maxim Alexandrovich Suraykin
Sergey Nikolayevich Baburin
For Putin it is the best result in a presidential election. He had received 52.9% in the 2000 election, 71.3% in the 2004 election and 64.4% in 2012. Putin – in these difficult times for Russia – was trusted by the Russian people, to rule the country for another six years. It cannot be overlooked that he succeeded in getting the country out of the deep valley of the 1990s/2000s and stabilising it. Even in the difficult today’s foreign policy situation, most of the voting people see in Putin a guarantee for a secure future. One must never forget that this country has been attacked twice in the past decades and a large part has been devastated and millions of people have lost their closest relatives.
But to the coverage of the Russian elections in the West: It was not to be overlooked that as part of the since 2014 ongoing anti-Russia campaign by Western governments and the associated media in the run-up to the election and even after the election obtrusively was disseminated the insinuation the election was not free and democratic. There were almost exclusively negative reports about the election. Every little irregularity was exaggerated. In parallel, the Russian government has been accused of poisoning a former agent in the UK.
The suspicion that deliberately a negative mood is created cannot be dismissed for a long time. (see page 5, “Nato and EU escalating …”)
The accusation that the elections are unfree and undemocratic should eventually be “proven” by an OSCE report. It certainly plays a role here that the OSCE enjoys a good reputation. As an alliance of 57 states, it is considered an independent institution outside the “Western” alliance.
Right after the Russian election, “SRF”, “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” and various other media reported that the OSCE had condemned the election. Just hours after the election, an online lexicon summarised the OSCE report and press reports: “The OSCE Election Observation Mission lamented on the day after the election that there was no real competition. There was therefore virtually no choice in the vote. The polls were marked by pressure on critical voices, the election observers in Moscow said: ‘An election without true competition, as we have seen, is not the right choice’, the OSCE said in a statement. The election observers had registered undue pressure on voters who had been exercised to increase voter turnout. According to the OSCE, there have been cases of serious irregularities such as multiple voting and group voting.”1
Anyone who has read the preliminary report of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on the presidential elections in Russia,2 has to realise that the online entry, which refers itself among other things to the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” – again referring to the OSCE Report – does not reflect all the content.
The report clearly states the problems of the Russian election, for example, that the incumbent Putin was given special treatment on state television, while his opponent Grudinin was rather poor. Vladimir Putin does not appear in television debates, which is interpreted as a protection. But in the other media (print media, radio, and online media) prevails pretty much an equal treatment. On Election Day itself, there are some organisational issues and a few scams.
But in general, the electoral process was described as good to very good. So the opposite of what has been made in most media of the OSCE report.
Unfortunately, as with many other sources before, many media have to admit that if someone wants to discredit an election, he should not refer to the OSCE as the source!
In any case, a little more restraint would be appropriate, if, for example, one only thinks of the US presidential election in 2000, in which thousands of decisive votes disappeared (election of George W. Bush in Florida), or even by what dubious means (US election campaign 2016) was and will be worked.
Even the obvious disadvantage of some parties in Germany or other EU states gives more to it than thinking. That is certainly no reason to lower the requirements for democratic elections, but it is an opportunity to reflect on the tasks of the media in a democracy. But it is also an opportunity to reflect on how the people themselves can be more directly involved in the important decisions of a country. •
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