Better They Not Come At All
The latest round of negotiations between international election monitors and the Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) on exactly how the former will be allowed to observe the Russian presidential elections scheduled for March 2, has ended without result. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) insists on having its main group of 50 observers arrive in
The CEC earlier had issued an announcement saying that
Evgeniy Ikhlov, “For Human Rights” (Za Prava Cheloveka)
The arrival of election observers means that the elections will be viewed as a democratic process. Indeed, there are no elections in
At issue is something completely different: it is understood that monitoring the election situation can be done only in the context of the information campaign that is conducted well before the elections. On the eve of elections or the day of voting, there is nothing to see in this regard. It will be established only that the people came and voted, and of course they will mostly vote for the Kremlin’s candidate. But elections are not simply a matter of counting votes. They are a complex democratic process, which includes a number of other things: access to mass media (for example, the refusal of the main candidate to participate in debates - this is certainly interesting too), the absence or presence of pressure on people, and whether intimidation or force are used to make them vote.
What will they see on the February 20 or 25, just ten days before the ritual? Everything will occur on cue: they will talk with students, teachers and doctors; everyone will turn out; the absentee ballots will be gathered. What sense is there in watching the final spectacle?
Of all the principles of democracy, there is really only one we have to adhere to: submit to the arithmetic majority from the elections. Everything else - access to the media, freedom of civil action, freedom of assembly and rallies - all of these things, it has been made clear, are not in fact guaranteed under the Constitution. Only one thing is guaranteed: the will of the people will be shown by the majority of those voting for it. How this majority is achieved is of no importance. There is no guarantee that all socio-political movements will have an equal opportunity to appeal to the nation. None at all. And this is not a shortcoming, not a violation, but simple the absence of a basis for democracy. If a person has no legs, you can hardly say he walks badly. And so it is with democracy in
I am convinced that the best way for these negotiations to end would be for the OSCE representatives to say: “This is not an election, this is a farce. It bears no relationship whatsoever to democracy. We have no intention of observing it.”