Russia elections and Putin – other autocrats are handling better

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Putin is still in power after the Russian election, but he is not the king of election fraud. Other rulers achieve even better results in their manipulative elections.

MOSCOW — After Russia's election, unsurprisingly, the old president is new: Vladimir Putin has been confirmed, and the Russian power apparatus is celebrating Putin as a landslide winner this Monday (March 18).

After all the ballots were counted, the 71-year-old, who has been in power for nearly a quarter of a century, managed to collect more than 74 million votes, the Election Commission said. The official final result was 87.28 percent for Putin – a record result. The voter turnout was over 74 percent – a record.

Won 88 percent of the vote in the Russian election: Vladimir Putin. © IMAGO/Artem Priakhin

Various allegations of election fraud in Russia

The election was considered totally undemocratic and there were widespread allegations of fraud. For example, during voting, several cases were documented of employees of state-owned enterprises being pressured to vote and sometimes asked to photograph their completed ballots. In advance, citizens were forced to vote.

Putin has been in power for at least six years in Russia and is allowed to run again in 2030, according to the constitution he revised.

But despite the global outrage over this apparently rigged and undemocratic election: despite the new record result, Putin is still far from the king of electoral fraud. That's because there are few current examples of incumbents clearly able to achieve better results in their own elections – so Putin still has a leg up in 2030.

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North Korea also “selects” – only one person at a time

It's hard to believe, but North Korea is also holding an election. However, the actual power structures within the country are somewhat diffuse. Abroad, North Korea is widely viewed as a totalitarian, Stalinist dictatorship led by Kim Jong-un. He succeeded his father as North Korea's “supreme leader” in 2011, making him the third member of his family dynasty to rule the country.

The country holds largely symbolic legislative elections, where turnout is typically 99.99 percent, and people vote “yes” or “no” on a single-candidate ballot. As in a totalitarian dictatorship, each candidate gets 100 percent of the vote in their constituency, according to the political press. PoliticsIncluding Kim Jong-un in 2014 and his sister Kim Yo Jong in 2019.

Bashar al-Assad is 95 percent happy

Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000 after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria for 30 years. During his rule, Assad has achieved several landslide electoral victories, winning nearly 89 percent of the vote in 2014 and more than 95 percent in 2021. Of course, in all manipulated elections.

In February 2024, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev won nearly 94 percent of the vote in an “election” in the South Caucasus. Aliyev, whose country will host the UN's COP29 climate summit later this year, is in his fifth term as president. Azerbaijan is considered one of the least independent countries in the world. Outside observers said the election was marred by a crackdown on the opposition and journalists, similar to what happened in Russia.

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Lukashenko chooses Putin

Putin's special friend of manipulation was just as successful as the Russian president: in August 2020, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko won 80 percent of the vote in the presidential election in Belarus, thus securing another mandate. The election result sparked a wave of futile mass protests by pro-democracy groups across the country. Opposition leaders are calling for Lukashenko's ouster.

Lukashenko had previously arrested opposition leader Sergei Dichanovsky, who wanted to become president of Belarus. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison. One might suspect that Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has taken many pages from Putin's leadership book, cracking down on the opposition and changing laws. (sot/rtr)

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