Posted by: secretperson | December 3, 2007

Mixed News for Democracy

Two big votes have come in, in two countries who many are worried about. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party swept the board at elections tainted by allegations of impropriety. And in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez lost a vote on giving himself increased powers and removing the term limits on presidential appointments so he could stand indefinitely.

It seems Putin abused the power of the state to bolster his election chances. Propoganda was wide-spread and the opposition parties who gained seats are all ones acceptable to Putin. Worrying news for Britain is that Andrei Lugovoi, wanted for the murder in London of dissident Alexander Litvinenko, has gained election and with it immunity. Although he was already heavily protected by Russia.

It seems the outward appearance of democracy is maintained, and Putin does seem to be popular, but the idea that he can fix elections starts off down a slipery slope. Dismissing criticism of elections as stirred up from abroad, it doesn’t look good for opponents of Putin. He may change from President to Prime Minister for appearances sake but I think we all know he’d remain the power behind the throne. As a major oil supplier to Britain and the rest of Europe, this only highlights our reliance on other countries, and our need for increased self-sufficiency.

However the news from Venezuela is good. Although the vote was won by only 51% to 49%, it seems Chavez will accept the result, at least for now. He may go for an EU style ‘keep asking the question till you get the right answer’, but it’s a good sign from a man who I think would love to have Putin’s power or follow the path of Castro. Let’s hope he continues to respect democracy and do what’s best for the people, not for his own power.


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