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Juking the Stats in Novosibirsk December 11, 2010

Posted by Jason in Uncategorized.
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A puppet-party candidate in Russia got mad at the system and tried to campaign on her own, but minders from United Russia & the Russian government shut her down. The article contains an interesting piece of speculation about the true role of democracy in Russia:

Regional chapters of A Just Russia had tried to wage authentic campaigns before, but the one here in October was among the fiercest. The headquarters of A Just Russia in Moscow referred to these newly assertive tactics as the “Novosibirsk experiment.” It viewed the election as a warm-up for national parliamentary balloting next year.

The party’s national leader, Sergei M. Mironov, who is head of the upper house of Parliament, visited the city and channeled funds to the campaign. (Because of Mr. Mironov’s prominence, the local authorities did not hamper him when he held campaign events here, his aides said.)

Mr. Mironov is a Putin ally, but he began drawing a distinction, vigorously opposing Mr. Putin’s party while usually — though not always — backing Mr. Putin himself. It was not clear why Mr. Putin tolerated this. There was speculation that he thought that competition would keep United Russia’s regional cadres from becoming complacent.

Something tells me that China wouldn’t do things this way, if it ever decided to set up a multiparty system. I’m not quite sure why I think this, but my instinct tells me that their elites would fight the implementation of such a system with their bottom RMB, but that once it was in place they would go and stage an open competition.

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1. Anselm - December 14, 2010

If “open competition” means intermittent anarchy and regional and ethnic fragmentation, I might agree. The existence of a “loyal opposition” within the ranks of the governing elites hasn’t been relevant since the 12th century, and neither Republican nor Communist era has long permitted active dissent. There are various factors behind this, not the least of which is that the sheer immensity of the country lends to a strong central government to hold everything together against external threats and to make for a unifying force across competing social classes and diverse ethnic groups and religious sects. It’s hard for me to imagine how a Federal Republic of China would work, each provincial area waging its own political battles yet contributing to a stable and balanced national government. If stable democracies are characterized by a two-party system, what might that look like in China? (One could perhaps refer to Hong Kong to get an idea of what political ideas might be viable to a democratic China, but I don’t know enough about that to shed light in that direction.) Perhaps Chinese democracy lies (inevitably?) in the future as it continues to modernize and diversify its economy, but the patterns of Chinese history suggest that the disintegration of one-party rule will result in a Balkanization (mixed metaphor?) into localized spheres, followed by a triumphal return of a dominant governing body and ideology. There is also the ancient tradition of noble exile and/or cultivation of happiness away from public life, which tends to dissipate the energies of political discontent among elites away from organized opposition. It remains to be seen if the masses can be organized in a fashion that both contains social upheaval enough so that a controlled “open competition” can be waged and that incorporates a wide enough spectrum of classes and ideological groups to institute viable governaance.


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