The only president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, wrote an article for The Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper about the recent presidential election in Russia. In the article Mr. Gorbachev expressed his opinion to alter the nation’s election system. He particularly offered to retrieve the direct gubernatorial elections and return to the mixed voting system during parliamentary elections.
“I took part in the election and urged my relatives, friends and all Russian citizens to go to the polls and use their voting right in spite of the fact that it was a predictable election. The result was predetermined with Vladimir Putin’s popularity. He supported Dmitry Medvedev and agreed to chair the cabinet of ministers in case of his victory. That was a peculiar feature of the recent election. Many treated such a situation rather critically,” Gorbachev wrote.
“It is more important what is going to happen next. To a certain extent the situation cleared by the end of the pre-election campaign. Electors had no opportunity to compare different projects of the candidates and variants of solving national problems. The list of presidential candidates left much to be desired too. However, people went to the polls and cast their votes, which, again, was a result of Putin’s phenomenon and people’s trust in him,” Gorbachev believes.
“As it seems to me, we have a unique chance now to use the previously formed prerequisites, the favorable international conjuncture and to take the way of modernizing the nation, not only industrially, but politically, economically and socially. The key directions of this work include the fields of education, innovation, healthcare, administration, the struggle to overcome poverty in the country, as well as bureaucracy and corruption,” the former Soviet president wrote.
“It is highly important that both President Putin and presidential hopeful Medvedev have been speaking about it lately. I have no doubts that they will take maximum efforts to accomplish those goals. However, this is not enough. It is very important to create mechanisms to realize the whole complex of highly complicated goals,” Gorbachev believes.
“The entire international experience testifies to the fact that it is possible to solve such large-scale goals under conditions of real democracy and people’s civil activity, when there is a fact of mutual understanding between the society and its authorities, when people do not fear to take on an initiative,” Gorbachev believes.
“Some may say that one should not slacken the reins, that the country does not need new democratic experiments, that the nation needs strong power. However, strong power may often become powerless if it exists on its own. One need to provide real support for people. Putin sensed the most important thing that people wanted – the retrieval of stability and state structure. That is why he gained such a support. Today, when it is necessary to solve more complicated and truly historical goals, one will need another level of feedback between the state and the society,” Gorbachev says.
In his opinion, changes in the organization of presidential, parliamentary and gubernatorial elections are necessary.
Mikhail Gorbachev was the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the last head of state of the USSR, serving from 1985 until its collapse in 1991. His attempts at reform - perestroika and glasnost - as well as summit conferences with United States President Ronald Reagan, contributed to the end of the Cold War, and also ended the political supremacy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. Gorbachev is currently the leader of the Union of Social-Democrats, a political party founded after the official dissolution of the Social Democratic Party of Russia on October 20, 2007.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov