Discussion in 'Russian Politics' started by Alexander Mercouris, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

    May 5, 2013
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    Today (27th October 2013) has been another in the long sequence of protests called by the so called "non system" or White Ribbon Opposition, which began with the protest on Bolotnaya Square on 10th December 2011 held in the aftermath of the parliamentary elections. The ostensible purpose of the latest protest was to call for the release of "political prisoners" including most specifically various persons arrested in connection with the riot that took place during the protest on Bolotnaya Square on 6th May 2012.

    The local authorities in Moscow authorised today's protest setting a maximum figure of 20,000 for the number of protesters. Though there is the usual disagreement about the precise number of protesters who turned up, I think it is generally acknowledged that the turnout was far below this and was in the range of 5-10,000.

    The reason these protest marches are now fizzling out is that there is no longer any point to them. The government obviously isn't going to fall and we are not going to have fresh parliamentary elections (remember that was the original demand). Apart from the stalwarts within the protest community there is nothing at the moment to motivate people to protest, which is why they are not protesting.

    Having said that, it is important to say that the decline in protest activity does not mean that the government has fewer opponents than it did a year ago. The two are not the same. The Moscow mayoral election shows that there is a section of the Moscow electorate (somewhere between 9-15%) who will reliably turn out to vote for a convincing liberal candidate be that Yavlinsky, Prokhorov or Navalny or someone else. That was true before the December 2011 parliamentary elections and it is true now. Across the country as a whole the percentage of the liberal vote is of course much smaller (probably around 5-7% of the whole electorate). Of course the government also has opponents to the Left (the Communists - who are far more numerous) and to the Right (who are far fewer) whilst every so often a single issue maverick will break through as has just happened in Yekaterinburg. Overall however judging from opinion polls and election results the ratings of all political groups are steady and there is no immediate challenge to the government on the horizon.

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