Perspective on the Military Vote

Carrying the Ballot Box

A little context for Kommersant’s report on Defense Minister Serdyukov informing the once-and-future president that 97 percent of servicemen voted in the December 4 Duma election, and United Russia garnered 80 percent of those votes.

The Defense Minister allegedly told Prime Minister Vladimir Putin 80 percent of servicemen and their family members picked United Russia (against 67 percent in 2007).  Some remote units reportedly even delivered 99 percent for Putin’s party. 

For the official opposition, the LDPR got 8.6, KPRF 6.3, and Just Russia 3.4 percent.  Their shares dropped from four years ago.

The TsIK says it doesn’t know how the Defense Ministry comes by such figures since most officers and soldiers vote in normal precincts.  And the military department hasn’t commented on any voting report by Serdyukov.

If this is accurate, we can conclude that Serdyukov delivered the military vote. 

Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Vladimir Mukhin wrote that United Russia had very similar results in the 2007 Duma election.

In 2003, NG’s Mukhin said the Defense Ministry put the “military electorate” at 5-6 million voters.  It’s probably less today.

United Russia reportedly got only 52 percent of the military vote in 2003, and Rodina 12, LDPR 11, and KPRF 6 percent each.

In 1999, UR’s precursor Unity (or Medved) took 48 percent, KPRF 18, the Zhirinovskiy (LDPR) bloc 14, and Fatherland-All Russia 7 percent.

What are we to conclude?  The process of nailing down the military vote has gotten smoother over time, coinciding with Putin’s and United Russia’s dominance of Russian politics.  It looks like the army has a habit of supporting whoever’s in power.  But now it looks just a little out of step with society — voting 80 percent for the party of power versus 49 percent countrywide.  But how the army votes and what it thinks may also be two different things.

7 responses to “Perspective on the Military Vote

  1. Frankly I think this is just Serdyokov trying to please the Boss.
    I agree that there is no way he could establish it and what is “the military electorate” anyway?
    I watched the vote count in Presidential election 1996 1st round in an Air Force Base near Moscow. Lebed came first (640), Yeltsin (394) Zyuganov (238) Yavlinskiy (190) Zhirinovskiy (85) and the rest trivial numbers (the Major running it made a copy of the results for me which I still have). As I recall the Defence Minister of the time also boasted the same thing. But as we see there was a lot of variation.

  2. Sorry to be late and somewhat brusque, but you can’t be seriously considering the official returns. There has been massive fraud since at least 1996, which has reached a peak in this cycle. The only way to gauge the military’s views is to monitor the expressed opinions of a large number of servicemen online, and only an intelligence service could do that.

  3. Fraud in the military vote is a real possibility, perhaps a probability. Ninety-nine percent is like an election return from Ramzan Kadyrov’s Chechnya. But Mukhin didn’t broach the issue of cheating by the party of power. His focus was on results the Defense Ministry allegedly claimed it got and reported up the line. “Military electorate” was extraneous here because it’s the figure people have used when including military pensioners, OPK workers, etc. The returns that were allegedly officially claimed are all we have to look at. Perhaps there was 20 percent or more fraud in them. Military votes have always been the easiest for the regime to manipulate and falsify. Then again Putin’s made a big effort to appeal to Armed Forces voters in the past year or so. There were illegalities and irregularities in 1996, but mainly prior to election day. If there was fraud on election day 1996 in the military, it wasn’t done well since Yeltsin got only 25% of the army vote. Your “opinion monitoring” option doesn’t work either because there’s no context for expressed dissatisfaction. For everyone who claims to be an officer and complains about the regime, there could be ten officers who are satisfied, but don’t go online to register that satisfaction.

  4. With respect, fraud is a certainty. There is no precedent for non-fraudulent elections in a highly authoritarian state like the one that Russia is today. The wider “military vote” is as susceptible to forced voting through blackmail and intimidation as the uniformed military, if not more so, since these voters are often completely dependent on the state.
    Putin always makes a big effort to ‘get’ the military vote, but he has been in power since mid-1999 and even in a democracy there would be significant voter fatigue. Electoral fraud is vote manipulation on any scale, so if Yeltsin got 5 % of the military vote in 1996, which is plausible, then that fraud in was relatively much more significant than today’s.
    You misunderstand the scale of opinion monitoring intended. If every internet posting by every man claiming to be a servicemen was monitored and analysed, a very coherent picture would emerge, even if only a small minority of the military was captured.

  5. Pay raises, apartments, and military orders: should be no surprise that the military voted for the party that backs Putin. Many still remember the 1990s – why should they forget? It was only recently and much of that “heritage” is still around. People appreciate some stability and improvement and have faith in the current direction.

  6. Dear ElRoz,

    First of all, you misread my comment regarding Putin. Second, your presumed association of “stability and improvement” with Putin in the minds of Russia’s military leaders is presumptuous at best. I would suggest most military professionals despise Serdyukov and all other ‘civilians,’ but cannot yet conceive of an alternative.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s