As the men prepare to cast their votes, Levin realizes that there is some sort of heated debate around whether or not Flerov should be on the ballot. Levin feels uncomfortable and watches the movement of the servants instead. When it’s Levin’s turn to vote, he asks Koznyshev which way he should cast his ballot, but Koznyshev patronizingly tells him to make his own decisions. The ballot passes easily, and the new party emerges victorious, but Levin doesn’t realize this until he unwittingly congratulates the former marshal.
Tolstoy uses Levin as a mirror for the reader: he drops this naïve character into the middle of the complicated political situation without any explanation of what’s going on, and Levin and the reader must figure everything out from contextual clues. Levin feels more comfortable watching the rhythms of the waiters instead of the artificial debate, as this is the closest milieu he can find to the way life works in nature. Levin’s confusion serves to highlight just how artificial the political intrigue is.