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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Now We Can Ignore the Elections in Peace

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As politicians return from their summer recess, they are preparing for the latest battle -- the campaign season for State Duma elections. According to changes in election laws, all of the Duma seats will be allocated according to a proportional representation system in the December elections. Instead of choosing individual candidates, voters will be able to choose only from a list of parties. The contest is conducted like a television game show: Those parties that do not get 7 percent of the vote are doomed to political extinction.

United Russia is acting as both player and referee by setting or changing the rules as it chooses. Liberals are outraged by this flagrant violation of democratic principles, while the majority of the people are openly indifferent -- and rightfully so.

After all, what difference does it make for us if the rules of the political game are fair or unfair when the game itself bears no relationship to our lives and when we find the whole spectacle deeply offensive? In the end, the people are the main prize for the candidates. The election winners get to order us around, to steal from us and to deceive us.

The people are not so much indifferent to democracy as they are to a system that they cannot influence in any way. It is perfectly understandable why so many Russians have so little desire to follow the election campaign on television. They know instinctively that the politicians are fundamentally unable to speak the truth.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the new electoral law was the decision to eliminate the "against all" option on the ballot. In reality, this was nothing but a farce. The concept of "against all" was developed to create the impression that voters had a legitimate way of expressing their protest at the ballot box. We should thank United Russia deputies and the Central Elections Commission for removing this option from the ballot. Now we can stay at home and ignore the elections in peace.

In addition, politicians did the right thing when they removed the election rule that set a minimum threshold for voter turnout. The authorities understood that it is simply unrealistic to expect ordinary mortals to participate in the election process. By removing the burden of voter turnout, our leaders have shown how humanitarian they are by not demanding anything from the people.

Cancellation of the minimum turnout means that the 2007 elections will be, technically speaking, more honest than the last one. Back then, most ballot box stuffing occurred at the local level, where it was necessary to collect the minimum percentage of votes. If the threshold was not met, the elections would have been declared invalid according to the law, forcing us to go through this election mess all over again. With the new rule in force, life has become much easier for both ordinary citizens and officials because, under the proportional electoral system, low voter turnout won't affect the outcome.

It would be more honest to simply cancel elections altogether and let politicians fight it out among themselves to determine who gets Duma seats. Even better would be to have them draw lots, or deputies could even try to win seats by playing poker or throwing dice. Any of these methods would be more fair and democratic than the present one. In addition, watching such a high-stakes contest would be more interesting and entertaining. At least we could limit ourselves to being observers rather than participants in the political process. After all, when you go to the horse races, no one requires you to run after the horses.

Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.