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Russia's election and the global response to economic woes

The voters' blow to Putin in the Russian election is another example of the different popular reactions to inept economic management – and is part of the global contest between models of governance.

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Over the past year, the world has witnessed an amazing diversity in the ways people have reacted to a loss of hope for their economic future – now almost a global phenomenon.

Among Arabs, nonviolent protests as well as armed rebellion erupted in January against corrupt despots who had created sclerotic economies.

In America, the “Occupy” movement emerged for those on the left who feel marginalized by the economic failings of both Wall Street and a money-driven democracy, just as the tea party began after the recession for those on the right.

In Europe, Greeks rioted against a forced austerity, while in Britain, civil servants went on strike over massive budget cuts. Across the Continent, many parliamentary governments have fallen as economies faltered – with their opponents given a chance to do better. In Italy and Greece, technocrats now rule.

Russian parliamentary elections on Sunday for a new parliament revealed a mix of reactions to the ruling United Russia party that supports Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Many Russians simply refused to vote in protest over Mr. Putin’s heavy-handed tactics against democratic opponents. Others disfigured their ballots. Millions of Russians didn’t vote because they long ago fled to the West out of disgust with the Putin-era corruption that skews the nation’s oil-driven prosperity.

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