This editorial by Dmitry Oreshkin in Novaya Gazeta provides a statistical argument that the results of the Moscow Mayoral Election were rigged. However, what’s far more interesting is that Oreshkin also argues that, despite the fact that Sobyanin stole the last few percentage points needed to avoid a runoff, democracy has been achieved. For the first time, independent monitors narrowed the range of fraud to the point where the ruling party, United Russia, was seriously challenged by an opposition leader. This, Oreshkin argues, will have a clear and demonstrable impact on the way Moscow runs – or the opposition will be even stronger next time. – Ed.
The “People’s Elections Commission” project is said to have finished up with remarkable success. I disagree – it looks like it simply cannot finish. A new generation has come for whom it is completely incomprehensible as to why THEIR votes should be counted with such joy by some strange old man (or old lady) with the habits of a bureaucratic lackey. They themselves can handle it perfectly fine – better, faster, and cheaper. Not to say more honestly.
The demonstration of our alternative vote count was completed on TV Rain and on the Novaya Gazeta website after 2:00 am. At that point 2,077 reports had come in from observers through the SMS-Central Elections Commission. It was three times as much as we had hoped for. All our “minimum programs” and “maximum programs” under the crush of the volunteers’ flow were thrown out already by the first hour of operation. While the official elections administration was silent, waiting for approvals and timidly digging their heels into the parquet floor, the People’s Elections Commission issued processed information from 700 Moscow polling stations and indicated the main trend: Navalny is rising, Sobyanin is falling.
The first in the system of tallying (at least in our Fatherland) has always been the reports from the special districts – like military units, hospitals, homes for the elderly, psychiatric hospitals, prisons and other bastions of state stability. The plan for 100% turnout is fulfilled (and sometimes even over-fulfilled!) even by 9:00 am, after which the sufferers who have fulfilled their civic duty under the established procedure go on to have breakfast. With a sense of deep satisfaction, aware that their voices have monolithically blended with the all-national support for the course of the Party and the Government. The people united can never be defeated!
In short, the first portion of the reports always provide an unnaturally high level of support for the government. Then as the reports come in from the normal districts, the concentration of insanity lowers, and the Law of Averages gradually brings the process to a more sane trajectory. From which, by the way, the reports from the special precincts do not disappear.
In the last hour of reporting, when the stream of SMS reports has already begun to slow, the result for Sergei Sobyanin changed three times: first 49.7%, then 49.8%, and then again 49.7%. The fluctuating at the level of one tenth of a percentage point means that it was close to the point of saturation from which it was more and more difficult to diverge; the numerical inertia accumulated was so powerful that the drops from the new streams were no longer capable of changing the structure of the stream.
That is, of course, if somebody doesn’t lob a barrel of concentrated solution in favor of one candidate in from the shore. There are more than 3,600 precincts; a minimum of 1,000 remained without independent observers. Without a doubt, something like this “barrel” will happen in them. To be more precise, was constantly happening from the very beginning, parallel to the basic process. The People’s Election Commission by definition had the reports only from those precincts where there were independent observers; consequently, the possibilities for falsification were limited. The precinct elections commissions that remained outside of the monitoring tried with all their might, but due to the incredibly large volumes of the monitored selection, there was only enough strength to pull in that saving 1.5-2 percent for the boss.
The result for Sobyanin, even without quibbling about the “special precincts,” likely consisted of about 49.7% plus or minus two or three tenths of a percentage point. It was likely lower, not higher than that. In the coming days, dozens of professional statisticians will scrupulously research the masses of data up and down with various methods and from various angles so that the true result will soon appear of its own accord, like the evidence of a scientific fact.
The enormous service of the observers (hardly realized by the participants in the program themselves!) was that they created an enormous mass of independent numerical facts available to all with an open access. Now the process has become truly irreversible. You cannot put the tooth paste back in the tube, the manuscripts aren’t burning, everything is transparent and confirmed by thousands of copies of the records. You can compare the distribution of “clean” to “dirty”; you can calculate the results with the “special” precincts or not “special”; with the “home votes” or without the “home votes”; as never before, you can precisely assess the scales and forms of the administrative padding: I’m not kidding.
From the data of 8 September 2013, future mathematics students will be able to explain on their fingers the real power of mathematical statistics, and show students of the humanities how primitively the false Putin vertikal [command administration] was put together.
But that’s in the future. And now? Now it is important to understand that the fateful question of the second round in general is not worth a red cent. It is an incident in the thousand-year path of an enormous country. What is much more important is that for the first time, Moscow could, with legal methods, without anguish and barricades, drive the government into the narrow corridor of accountability. Thousands of volunteers attempted and realized in practice their theoretical right to monitoring. That’s all! And immediately, a lot became clear.
Elections, if they are used correctly, are a very effective instrument of pressure on the government in the interests of citizens. Moscow Mayor Sobyanin, who had 51.4% (with complete understanding about the dubiousness of his two-percent reserve) – that is not the same Sobyanin at all who had 80% turnout in Tyumen Region with the same result for United Russia and Medvedev. Moscow with thousands of election volunteers is not the same Moscow whom Luzhkov duped with his tame electoral administration.
The city has learned how to control the process and the coming elections in the Moscow City Duma will become a real headache for the mayor’s office. It means the office will be forced to seriously get busy building traffic overpasses, making an effective budget, showing concern for old people and so forth and so on.
Isn’t that, in the final analysis, democracy? As one Chinese man said, it is not so important whether the name of a cat starts with the letter S or the letter N, what’s important is that it catch mice.
Now about the specifics. About 2.4 million people came to the polling stations. That’s not many. But even so, they were real. According to initial estimates (soon we will finish counting and report on it), there were about 100,000 “dead souls.” That was nothing compared to the previous times – it was not more than 4% of the electorate. The scale of falsification managed to be reduced by a factor of 10 – from 15-17% points ascribed to United Russia in December 2011 to approximately two percentage points (we will calculate this more accurately later) ascribed to Sobyanin in September 2013.
The threshold over which the falsifiers managed to cling to over the abyss of the second round was less than 50,000 votes. Furthermore, about 700,000 people supported Navalny in the natural count; in terms of the city electorate, it’s 2 million voters. Those who jeered about the “marginality of the white-ribbon wearers” [demonstrators] can go to a well-known address.
Of course, people should have voted a bit more actively. And campaigned a bit more actively. And observed a bit more actively. But in the final analysis, all of that is transitory. The main thing is that the city realized that it is cable of calculating the results of the elections outside and around the union of electoral swindlers. The next logical step in that direction is the question: why, then, do we maintain this close-knit gang with our taxes? So that they preserved their unique civilizational identity at our expense?
In other words, the city of Moscow, from an object of THEIR power manipulations has turned into a subject which itself is capable of manipulating the city managers.
Against the background of these fundamental changes, everything else grows dim. Independent observers truly achieved a revolution – which as usually happens in such situations, they themselves don’t quite realize. This article began with the thought to give a huge thanks to all the participants of the projects for their massive volunteers’ heroism in the election precincts. But then it became clear that in fact it was a question of something incomparably more important. A new class of people has appeared in Russia (or perhaps, a generation?) which can legally, with complete compliance with the law and dignity defend their interests in direct interaction with the government.
Now the bureaucracy faces an obvious dilemma – either subordinate and bend a little to the results of each of the ensuing electoral campaigns or wail about threats to the country’s unity and unique identity and cancel these elections all to hell and return to the habitual direct force. Like in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, North Korea, China and other bastion regions of the Great Eurasian Civilization.
The second option requires direct gunfire at people and cannons on the square. But the first means that the People’s Elections Commission (in the broadest sense of the word) is doomed to further growth and expansion. From Moscow to Voronezh, to Yekaterinburg – and so on right up to Yaroslavl. Along the pavement.