Paramount to any democracy, or any system of government based upon the vote of its citizens, is the guarantee that the voting and election process is both fair and open. Unfortunately the latest Russian Presidential election, held in March, was marred with uncertainty and potential fraud. Among the claims of ballot stuffing and voter fraud, are also more specific accusations that voters were actually driven around in busloads in order to cast multiple ballots. Other accusations emerged of observers being kept away from polling stations and numerous people being beaten. While this sort of corruption is certainly not a historical first, its existence, in spite of the fact that Putin guaranteed that these elections would be fair and transparent is troubling and certainly something worth examining. This is especially relevant and important given Russia’s historical tendency towards corruption.
These disturbing reports can be seen as violations of the rule of law in almost all meanings of the word. Certainly these are violations of the positive laws in any democracy. Insofar as voting is seen by some as an inherent right, what occurred in Russia can be seen as a betrayal of natural law. If these reports are true, it shows how important the practical implementation of law is on the ground level as opposed to law on a theoretical level. Without the correct enforcements in place, law only exists as perception instead of reality. Although Russia regards itself as a democracy, that means very little if the application of democratic principles in the country are stomped on. In fact, it is probably preferable that they are not seen as such given that the tag or label of ‘democracy’ as it applies to Russia, dilutes and does a disservice to the term.
This controversial election resulted in much protest and outcries of injustice done, however the results remained and Putin is currently Russian president as a result of these elections. Whether or not that would have been the case in a fair election is unknown, however it is also irrelevant to whether or not the law has been followed. These reports of wrongdoing are numerous and above all seem to indicate that there indeed were some legal violations during the electoral process. I think we can look to this election as a reason as to why it is so important that people’s legal freedoms be protected. When positive and natural law go disrespected they are meaningless.
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