Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Apathy and democracy

Apathy is not a value that is conducive to representative government. However, apathy might well be one of the learned values in Russia.

Opposition Finds Apathy Over Election in Russia City
[I]f residents have little faith in the election system, they also seem to have little interest in Mr. Shein’s [mayoral election loser] plight. Their indifference poses a major challenge for antigovernment activists from Moscow who have flocked south in recent days to lend him support, and are hoping to use his case to build wider momentum for political reform…

The source of voters’ apathy seems to be a combination of the mayor’s relative lack of power compared with regional and federal officials and a jaded expectation that elections in Russia are always rigged, one way or another. On Tuesday, regional prosecutors said they had fully investigated Mr. Shein’s complaints and found them insignificant…

“We don’t see any great resonance here,” said the well-known anticorruption blogger, Aleksei Navalny, who has been in Astrakhan since Monday…

“Southern cities like Rostov, Astrakhan, Volgograd — they have always been less lively because everybody here got used to the situation that the mafia rules everything,” Mr. Navalny said. “Everybody thinks that it’s impossible to change anything…”

Sergei M. Mironov, the Just Russia leader, criticized the hostile attitude toward political opposition by the governing authorities.

“There will never be civil society without opposition, and we should learn to listen to and hear each other, not see an enemy in those who think differently, who have other thoughts and probably even ideals but work for a common cause,” Mr. Mironov said. “Unfortunately, today we see that we are very far from such an ideal.”…

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