The elections in the USA and the Russian Federation are both unfair and undemocratic. Still, the western capitalist media will never say this publicly. Russian elections are called unfair and undemocratic by western governments, while American democracy is praised. Nothing is said about the undemocratic way elections are held in the ”land of the free”. America has a two party system in which both Democrats and Republicans make sure that their parties get all media attention. The whole American government is structured around these two right-wing parties. Putin’s United Russia party is winning most elections in Russia, because the electoral system is controlled by supporters of this conservative party. It reminds us of America, were polling is done by members of the Democratic Party and Republican Party!
Russia is ruled by one authoritarian conservative party since 2003. This party was created by fusing all centrist and conservatives groups, who supported Putin’s presidency into one political party called; United Russia. The party became the largest in the Russian Duma (parliament) in 2003, winning 22 million votes. This gave Vladimir Putin a stable base of new politicians, willing to support his rule. Unlike Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, Putin stayed away from too much Soviet nostalgia. United Russia is not a neo-Stalinist party, it does promote Russian conservatism, nationalism and chauvinism!
By 2007, the party controlled most Russian republics and federal subjects. The next elections to the Duma gave the conservatives a full majority, they got 44 million votes. Putin was now at the height of his power, but he could not hide the fact that many Russians are still living in poverty. Russia is a very unequal society, with billions of U.S dollars and euros stored in private bank-accounts of super oligarchs like Anatoly Chubais, Roman Abramovich, Alexander Abramov, Oleg Deripaska, Mikhail Fridman, Mikhail Prokhorov, Alisher Usmanov, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg, Leonid Mikhelson, Vagit Alekperov and Pyotr Aven. In the 1990’s, these oligarchs were given free reign, they destroyed the post-Soviet economy. Putin knew he had to bring them back into line. Destroying them was unwise as many were willing to bow to the Kremlin. So he choose to ally himself with ”patriotic” oligarchs, who were given many privileges!
Elections in Russia have never been free, fair or democratic. The only time you could speak of relative free elections was in 1990, just one year before the collapse of the USSR. After the Constitutional Crisis in 1993, Russia was transformed from a parliamentary state into a presidential state, centralizing much political power in the presidency. Vladimir Putin has a lot to say and what little parliament can decide is done by his supporters and allies!
Because all political parties in the State Duma (parliament) are allied to the Kremlin bureaucracy. Although they claim to oppose the politics of Putin and United Russia, most politicians are loyal to the Kremlin bureaucracy and to ”Mother Russia”. Because they know that open rejection of Vladimir Putin can end your political career very fast. The state-media in Russia is famous for their McCarthy style witch-hunts against ”unpatriotic” politicians!
There are four major (approved) political parties in the Russian Federation:
- United Russia, a conservative-nationalist party
- Communist Party of the Russian Federation, pseudo-communist party
- Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, far-right nationalist party
- A Just Russia, social democratic party
The Kremlin bureaucracy was unsure which political party would become their tool. In 2003, United Russia was a strong conservative party, but Vladimir Putin was not yet a party member. He used to belong to the short lived political party: Unity, from 1999 until 2001. Unity was formed by supporters of Boris Yeltsin, approved by the Kremlin. After it fused into United Russia, Vladimir Putin did not enter the new party. It was a personal choice of him to remain independent for a few years, to see if the new conservative party was worthy. After 2008, Putin gave his blessing to United Russia and became a member. The conservatives are now the ”party of the presidency”!
A Just Russia is the name of a social democratic party. This party was also the product of fusions by leftist nationalists, social democrats and moderate leftists. It was formed in 2006 by merging the political parties; Rodina, the Russian Party of Life and the Party of Pensioners. Rodina was the largest of the three, a leftist nationalist party favored by some members of the Kremlin bureaucracy. The new party; A Just Russia, claims to be ”democratic socialist” and ”progressive”. But many say that the entire creation of A Just Russia, was the work of Kremlin officials as a counterbalance to United Russia. This can be seen by the fact that the party was fully supportive of Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency, while remaining critical of Vladimir Putin!
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation has been able to become the ”official” communist party in Russia thanks to the blessing of the Kremlin. Russia has over four different communist parties, all from the Stalinist tradition. The CPRF is the most moderate and therefore the ideal choice for the Kremlin. On paper, the party stands in opposition to Putin and United Russia on economics. But when the Kremlin calls for unity behind the president, the communist party will bow their heads. The CPRF also promotes nationalism and calls on Russians to love their nation, which is totally alien to the ideals of Leninist internationalism. Like all communist parties in Russia, they have embraced Stalinist revivalism by portraying Joseph Stalin again!
On the right-wing spectrum there is United Russia, but the conservatives are not radical nationalist, this position is given to the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. Although called liberal and democratic in their name, the LDPR is not supportive of liberalism. This nationalist party is deeply in love with ”Mother Russia” and therefore supports the Kremlin in their conflicts with the western world. It is the most anti-western party and calls for ethnic nationalism and hatred of Jews, LGBT people and true Marxists. The LDPR is a far-right party used by the Kremlin, to attract support from lower-income men, predominantly from small towns and rural areas!
Russia has more political parties then just these four. But the Kremlin has made sure that only these end up in the State Duma. This is done by concentrating all (state)media attention only on United Russia, the CPRF, the LDPR and A Just Russia. To gain seats in the State Duma, a political party needs to be sponsored by Kremlin officials. If a sponsored political party becomes too critical of the presidency, the Kremlin may fund a brake away party. In the case of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, some say that the political party; Communists of Russia is a Kremlin product, created to reduce the political power of the CPRF. For the 2016 elections, this strategy seems to have worked. The Communists of Russia won 2,29% or 1,1 million votes. Not enough for a seat, but enough to reduce the seats of the bigger CPRF!
Many see right through the facade that is called ”Russian democracy”. The very low voter turnout proofs this. Out of 111 million voters, only 40% choose to participate in the 2016 parliamentary elections. It shows that there is little trust in politicians and the electoral system. Russian workers know that their vote means little and that most political parties act as front groups for the mighty Kremlin bureaucracy. The only party that president Putin wants to see winning, is his own United Russia party. With 54% voting for the conservatives, it is clear that United Russia is allowed to rule for another five years!
The USA is seen as a beacon of democracy and liberty. This is how Americans see it. A nation of the free and the home of the brave. Reality however is different. America is a two party system operating under a single ideology. Much like Russia, most political control is centralized in few political parties (two in the case of the USA). In Russia, the state media is told to allow only debates with the four Kremlin sponsored parties. On the American side, only candidates from the far-right; Republican Party and right-wing; Democratic Party can be seen debating on television!
Many have been told that the Republicans are the right-wing and the Democrats are the left-wing. Like the CPRF and ”A Just Russia” in the Russian Federation, the Democratic Party is said to be the voice for leftists. Revolutionary socialists fully reject this claim. Although some Democrats like Bernie Sanders are progressive, most elected officials from the Democratic Party are right-wing, pro-capitalist and anti-worker. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are centrists, right-wing on economics and supportive of wars and imperialist interventions. Clinton is also a politician of Wall Street and many bankers love her!
Polling in the USA is done by members of both parties. This means that only Democrats and Republicans are put up in the polls. Candidates of third parties are excluded, giving the American voters a very limited choice between far-right conservatism or neoliberalism. Revolutionary socialists say that both America and Russia have undemocratic electoral systems, which are designed to keep the ruling class in power. Russia has created a perfect pseudo-democracy, while the USA has always been a plutocratic-democracy. Because money makes it all in the ”land of the free” and this is no joke. Bernie Sanders is one of the few senators who is not a millionaire, while Democrat; Mark Warner was the richest senator in 2012, with a net-worth of over 200.000 million dollars!
America is a democracy of money and capitalists pay huge amounts to buy politicians from both Democratic and Republican parties. As a pure capitalist party, the Republican Party is the most buy able of the two. This does not mean that the Democrats are less corrupt. 2/3 of all elected Democrats are right-wing and will accept donations from capitalist enterprises. True leftists inside the Democratic Party are a minority and although brave progressive, there are too few to change the direction of the party. At this moment, Bruce Rauner is the richest American politician. His net worth is estimated at 500.000 million U.S dollars. He is the Republican Governor of the State of Illinois, serving since January 12, 2015!
How can American workers think that a rich guy like Bruce Rauner will fight for their interests? Rauner is a capitalist and co-founder of GTCR LLC a private equity firm focused on leveraged buyout, leveraged recapitalization, growth capital and rollup transactions. It is not uncommon for capitalists to become politicians, as they want to build legislation that serves the ruling class. Workers cannot trust capitalists in politics, voting for them is counterproductive. Another capitalist who is trying to win big in politics is Donald Trump. This billionaire is running for president on the ticket of the Republican Party. Trump wants to ”Make America Great Again” by enforcing brutal racism, austerity and capitalist law and order. His plans include the deportation of Muslims, Mexicans and all illegal workers. The populist billionaire is winning support among white male workers, who have this wrong idea that a capitalist can provide jobs and stability for them!
What both the United States of America and the Russian Federation needs are parties of the working class. Political parties created by workers, for workers. At this moment no such parties exist. The political left-wing is weak and very limited to moderate leftists like Bernie Sanders or lovers of stalinism like CPRF boss; Gennady Zyuganov. Almost all communist parties in the Russian Federation have embraced the face of Joseph Stalin again. His picture can be seen proudly on websites of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Communists of Russia, the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and the Russian Communist Workers Party. Proofing that the official communist parties are all poisoned by Stalinist revivalism, which will not help the workers movement!
The reason why Stalin is resurrected is because of the elderly electorate who vote CPRF. These Russians are all born around the period of classic stalinism (1930-1956), take party leader Zyuganov for example. He is 72 years old and was told at school as a child about the ”Greatness of Comrade Stalin”. Many who vote for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation have a romanticized picture of Stalin as a ”Great Leader” and ”Liberator of the USSR”. In reality the Red Czar was cowering in his Kremlin apartment for two weeks, following the German invasion of 1941. His purges in the Red Army led to the defeats of 1941/1942. Stalin won the war because he gave his generals free reign. They are the true hero’s of the USSR, not ”the Great Stalin”!
Stalinist revivalism will not strengthen the socialist movement in Russia, it will only weaken it. Meanwhile in the USA, members of Socialist Alternative in Seattle have proven that with clear socialist principals, they can defeat the Democratic Party establishment. Kshama Sawant has twice been elected into the city council, she defeated the ”progressive wing” of the Democrats in two elections. Unlike Bernie Sanders, Sawant is a revolutionary socialist and calls for the formation of a new workers party. She believes that it was a big mistake of Sanders to capitulate before Hillary Clinton, as he had a far better chance of beating Donald Trump. Socialist Alternative chooses to support Jill Stein and the Green Party for the upcoming presidential elections in November 2016!
Although Jill Stein is not a Marxist, she and her party offer a good leftist alternative to the right-wing Democratic candidate: Hillary Clinton and the far-right Republican candidate: Donald Trump!