Russia: To Vote, or Not To Vote?

Global Voices Online
Saturday, November 17, 2007

To vote - or not to vote? To "vote with your feet" - or to follow Mikhail Khodorkovsky's advice (RUS, translated here) and vote for one of the smaller parties that you don't "despise"? To boycott the election - or to spoil the ballot? To be proper and check one of the ballot's squares - or to get mischievous and write a swear word across the page?

These are the questions that quite a few Russian bloggers seem to be considering right now.

Half a month ago, LJ user tvoron saw a handmade poster at a bus stop in Moscow, which, in a rather crude language, urged voters to write a three-letter Russian obscenity on the ballots, in order to protest, among other things, the elimination of the "against all" option and the minimum voter turnout requirement.

Below is an exchange (RUS) between two of tvoron's readers:


You know, I totally agree with the authors of this creation. I myself am going to do something similar, if I go there at all. [...]


Do you realize that the more ballots get spoiled, the more seats go to the [pro-Kremlin United Russia]?


What's that, some new law that we've got? Interesting.

But even if it is so, what do you suggest? To go and vote for [Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko]? Honestly, I'm not going to vote at all - let this farce - whose results are known in advance - is taking place without me. And the United Russia will get what it needs anyway.


Yes, this is the law. Whoever hasn't showed up, or spoiled the ballot, or cast a vote for a non-winning party - this person has given his/her vote to the leader as a gift (in our case, to the United Russia).

I suggest to vote for any other party that's likely to get past the [7-percent eligibility threshold], preferably for the one that'll come in second or third. They are all bad. But the only way to protest is to vote for them.

I guess I'll vote for the vegetables - [the Communist Party of the Russian Federation]. Even though a few years ago I would've given myself a beating for this. [...]


[...] Well, thank you, young man, but I wasn't reading [samizdat copies] of [Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn] and [Joseph Brodsky] throughout the night as a kid to vote for the Communists when I'm 37. No way.

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