Democracy is all well and good, but probably unattainable. So when I see elections held – this week in Moscow – which claim to be both free and fair, based on democratic ideals, I tend to wonder.
Anyone can claim that the elections in Moscow were free and fair and, to a certain extent they could be right. But there is a lot more to it than that. It’s one thing to allow someone to stand for office, but quite another to ensure that their access to the public, their ability to bring their message across to the voters, is almost impossible.
Free and fair elections are not just the right of anyone to stand for office, nor of the right of any citizen to vote. Free and fair means everything that goes with the election, and that includes access to the media and the right to congregate, to speak in public, to bring a new message across. No election is free and fair when only a piece of paper with a few names on it may be checked by registered voters and stuffed into a box. Free and fair begins weeks, if not months, before that mark on the ballot and continues after the election results have been publicized.
- Viktoria Michaelis.