Accessibility links

The Daily Vertical: A Duma Of The Minority (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Russians have made their choice and most of them have decided to opt out.

For the first time in post-Soviet history, a majority of Russian voters decided to stay home rather than cast a ballot in a federal election.

Roughly 48 percent of eligible voters turned out for yesterday's legislative elections, which is -- by far -- a record low.

In the past six elections, the average turnout was over 60 percent.

WATCH: Today's Daily Vertical

In Moscow, less than 30 percent voted, according to preliminary figures. In St. Petersburg, it was less than 20 percent.

This will be a Duma of the minority.

And this, I think, is the most important takeaway from yesterday's vote.

If elections in Russia are legitimization rituals and political theater -- and this is pretty much what they have been reduced to -- a majority of Russians have decided they didn't want to be part of the show.

A majority chose not to legitimize the sham.

But here's the thing. This was largely by design.

The Kremlin moved the election forward from December to September, when many Russians are still on holiday.

The campaign season was shorter and received less attention than in the past.

The Kremlin wanted a boring election that nobody cared about. And they got what they wanted.

And what this means is that Vladimir Putin's regime appears to be moving away from elections -- even fixed elections -- as their primary means of legitimization.

It looks like Putin is abandoning electoral authoritarianism and replacing it with good old-fashioned authoritarianism.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.