THE FORTHCOMING REGIONAL ELECTIONS: THE UNITED RUSSIA WILL COUNT ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE RESOURCE AND TAME MEDIA OUTLETS AGAIN
Results of opinion polls indicate that the United Russia has never been so popular yet.
Five regional legislatures are to be elected on the Autumn Polling Day (October 8) – in the republics of Karelia and Chuvashia, in Astrakhan, Novgorod, and Sverdlovsk. Additional elections into the Duma will take place that day in the Sakhalin and Ust-Orda Buryat single-mandate districts, plus additional elections into the parliaments of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Krasnoyarsk, and Vladimir will be organized. Local elections in a number of regions will take place as well.
The Chuvashian regional organization of the United Russia convened a conference yesterday. The delegates were informed of President of Chuvashia Nikolai Fedorov’s readiness to top the party list of candidates. Experts do not eliminate the possibility that governors of other regions will also top the ruling party’s lists in the forthcoming elections.
According to the Levada-Center, 46% of all voters who intend to turn up at the polling stations will vote for the United Russia at this point (4% more than in early 2006). Mark Urnov of the Expertise Foundation told this newspaper that “the United Russia has never been so popular yet.” The political scientist is convinced that the ruling party could win the forthcoming election even without governors and the so called administrative resource. That the United Russia intends to use all of that anyway merely indicates “state official’s fear” because “governors who are appointed want the party they are members of to be larger in their own republic than in the neighbor regions.”
Alexander Ivanchenko of the Independent Institute of Elections is convinced that the forthcoming regional elections will become “a drill in mobilization of the administrative resource.” Governors topping the United Russia’s lists of candidates are an indication that the ruling party will count on the administrative resource again and on the state-controlled media outlets to boot. “Inconvenient” candidates will be removed from the race by “purely bureaucratic tricks” and the elections themselves will be “without alternatives and featureless” due to “the meager composition of candidates and parties”.
According to Urnov, only the CPRF and LDPR will have some of their candidates elected into regional legislations along with the United Russia’s. Liberals are popular only in large cities and Sergei Mironov’s Party of Life does not stand a chance at all, Urnov said. Ivanchenko in his turn believes that the forthcoming election will “spur political competition” because the authorities know all too well that repetition of the same scenario in 2007 may compel voters to ignore the election altogether.