Staunton, Sept. 20 – If one views Russian elections not as some opportunity to affect political outcomes but as a measure of where society is relative to the state, Dmitry Luchikhin says, then one can see that the authorities are fully capable of dealing with protest voting and boycotts but now with growing indifference on the part of the population to the entire game.
Protest voting, boycotts, and even demonstrations after the voting are all part of this game, the Bratsk commentator says. But indifference isn’t. It reduces the process to meaninglessness, something the powers can’t cope with (newizv.ru/comment/dmitriy-luchihin/20-09-2021/v-vyborah-dlya-vlasti-strashnee-vsego-ne-protest-i-ne-boykot-a-polnoe-bezrazlichie).
Luchikhin argues that mounting indifference toward elections among the population is something that highlights the extent to which the entire situation is passing out of the control of the authorities if not now then eventually. And he adds that that is a danger that now looms in Russia in the wake of the Duma election.
Opting out of such political arrangements parallels opting out of vaccination demands by the state, he suggests. It is a way of making a claim for the value of the individual against the state. In Western countries, elections still matter to a degree, although there too people are increasingly choosing extra-political ways in response.
In Russia, Luchikhin says, where elections have been reduced to ritual, the process of opting out is further advanced, with ever more Russians viewing them as meaningless and therefore unworthy of respect. They may take part because it is easier to do so than not, but they no longer take even their own actions seriously.
When all is said and done, the Bratsk writer says, that is likely to define Russia’s future far more than those few who are still passionately involved either as supporters of the Putin regime or as its most committed opponents. This combat of minorities will continue, but the population will seek new ways of going its own way.