A friend of mine recently mentioned something about election fraud in Russia and it sounded as though there were connections to some of the things we have talked about in class. Upon further research, I quickly realized that a great deal of what was occurring could be related back to many of Schmitt’s ideas including, the ease with which one can reconcile democracy and dictatorship and the changing modern attitudes about democracy.
For those who do not feel like reading the whole article, the main idea is that in the recent election, there was found to be a great deal of fraud including, stuffed ballot boxes and intentional miscounting. Putin, who is already in office and is actually considered to have had a fairly successful time in office thus far, was the winner of the election. The people of Russia, however, are extremely upset because they feel the election was fixed. Many large protests have been occurring throughout Russia, which seem to share many similarities with our own Occupy Wall Street protests. I am not extremely confident in the reliability of this source but here is a link to an article that claims to have documented some of the corruption which at least presents some good things to think about: http://observers.france24.com/content/20111206-russia-election-fraud-caught-video-ballot-stuffing-erasable-ink-putin-protests
What is important to examine about all of this is the actual legitimacy of what Valdimir Putin is accused of doing. Whether or not the election was even truly fixed, Putin, who used to be the prime minister of Russia, also recently announced that he will be essentially “swapping places” with the President of Russia, Mendelev. This act seems highly undemocratic because there was no influence by the people in the decision at all. However, I believe Schmitt would argue that this is completely legitimate because the Russian people placed Putin in power in the first place. In a sense, they agreed as a people that Putin will be the best leader and placed him in position to make decisions and Putin now has the right to do what he thinks is best for the people of Russia. If that means that more prosperity will be achieved by him acting as president, then that is what he is obligated to do. One could even go a step further and argue that by rigging the election, Putin is acting as a leader in trying to do what is best for the Russians. For the record, however, I must admit that I personally believe that rigging an election is merely a selfish decision by Putin to remain in power.
I also want to mention the implications that this whole situation has on our current perceptions of democracy, something that Schmitt also discusses. You can view it in multiple ways. If one were to take the viewpoint of Putin and the Russian government, it would be easy to agree with Schmitt’s theory that democracy is simple a system of organization and parliamentarism is all just for show. This is because there is a clear disregard by Russian officials for the defense of “traditional democratic ideals”. However, I would say that one could at least gain optimism from the fact that the people of Russia are actively protesting and asserting their own power. They are trying to prove that democratic ideas are still important to them.