Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Party and government are the same?

Where have I heard the idea that a political party and a government are one and the same? Oh, yes, China. Now Putin and United Russia may be taking lessons from the Chinese.

Russians pull out political dirty tricks ahead of elections
Even the not-so-casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that with the elections less than a month away, Bruce Willis was one of the front-runners in the campaign for Russia’s equivalent of Congress.

Hardly. The tough-guy American actor has been occupying prime billboard space for months, but he’s the attention-getting face of Trust Bank’s advertising campaign…

Over the past week or so, a civic-minded series of posters has sprouted up along avenues and in subway stations in the white, blue and red national colors, urging voters to go to the polls on Dec. 4 for the State Duma elections. Now even more of those posters are up, looking very much the same, except they have the logo of the ruling United Russia party at the top, with a vote-for-us check mark…

After the federal election commission disbursed the equivalent of $230 million to local commissions to prepare for the elections, he said, the city of Moscow awarded its advertising contract to a favored firm…

“The company is also in charge of advertising materials for United Russia,” Andrei Buzin, who monitors elections for an American-style, and even American-financed, civic watchdog called Golos (Vote) said…

So the city paid for the first round of ads, he said, and United Russia paid for the second, adding its logo to the poster. It’s a gross violation of the election law, he said, and attempts have been made to stop it. And yes, it’s only one step of many toward elections widely expected to be unfair…

“This is only natural, because United Russia is not a party in the classical meaning of the word. United Russia is a branch of the administration,” Buzin said. In other words, why not use the same advertising if the ruling party and the country are one?…

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