Politicians and analysts share their predictions for the Duma election

Vladimir Rimsky: “Even when politicians try to respond to immediately relevant issues, their efforts are mostly populism. There’s no competition between ideologies and national development strategies. The election campaign is based on individual personalities.”

Party leaders, prominent political analysts, pollsters, and business executives gathered at the Argumenty i Fakty press center on May 31 for a roundtable conference.

Valery Fedorov, general director, All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM):

VTsIOM predicts that voter turnout in the December election will be at least 45.4%. Note that it was 56% in the last Duma election. According to our calculations, only four parties will make it into the Duma: United Russia, the Communist Party (CPRF), Just Russia, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR).

Sergei Mitrokhin, deputy chairman, Yabloko party:

There are numerous factors that pollsters don’t take into account. And how can you calculate something like administrative resources, anyway? The pro-Kremlin parties are squabbling over those resources, and the outcome of their tug-of-war is unpredictable. The opposition’s results are also unpredictable. In the latest round of regional elections, Yabloko was disqualified in the regions where it had the best chances – Karelia, St. Petersburg. The same will apply in the Duma election: the better our chances, the greater the risk of disqualification. Russia’s electoral system is based on unfair elections and fraud – so forecasts don’t work here.

Alexei Mitrofanov, Duma member, LDPR faction:

The election picture in Russia hasn’t changed since 1993. About 25% are left-wing voters, another 25% are patriotic voters, 15% are the big-city intelligentsia pro-Westerners. And 30-35% always vote for the incumbent authorities. In 1993 the Kremlin went into the election in separate columns, while the LDPR enjoyed a monopoly on the patriotic field – and took the lead. The Kremlin learned a lesson from that, and since then it’s never allowed anyone to have a monopoly. The voting results for the major parties will depend on the number of piranha-parties launched into any particular sector. The CPRF won’t get 25% if it’s being nibbled at by the Patriots of Russia and others. If Baburin and the People’s Will move onto our turf, they’ll take 2-3% from us. Or Rogozin – who’s been riding a BMW motorbike, working up some adrenalin – if his Great Russia party is allowed to participate, it will also take votes from us.

Andrei Vorobiev, CEC leader for United Russia:

We are well aware that the election campaign of 2007 will be spicy and busy – we have no illusions about that. Competition will be fierce. But we’re optimistic about turnout – thanks to the efforts of the CEC, among others, I think it will be over 50%. It’s within our capabilities to draw as many people as possible into the election campaign.

Vladimir Ulas, first secretary, CPRF Moscow City Committee:

The March elections in key regions, and the Communist candidate’s victory in the Volgograd mayoral election, show that we have regained almost all the ground lost since 1999. We regard United Russia as our chief opponent – the party of the bureaucracy and the oligarchs. I don’t think it will get more than 40% of the vote. Besides, the Kremlin doesn’t want United Russia to have a controlling interest in the Duma. That stake can be split between United Russia, Just Russia, the LDPR, and the Union of Right Forces (SPS). Our main objective will be to resist administrative abuses, vote-rigging, and fraud.

Nikolai Levichev, Just Russia central council presidium politburo secretary:

Young parties like Just Russia are growing so fast that it would be far too hasty to make predictions for December at this stage. All the same, I find it very frustrating to hear these representatives of various forces talking of the political process solely in terms of manipulation. This confirms that the problem is extremely acute.

Dmitri Oreshkin, head of the Mercator Group, Geography Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences:

United Russia will get around 46% of the vote – and around 6% of that will be gained thanks to administrative resources. The Communists are mistaken to think that high voter turnout will be advantageous for them. Turnout will be boosted mostly by administrative efforts, voting outside polling stations. And those votes usually go to United Russia.

Vladimir Rimsky, sociology department manager, InDem Foundation:

Even when politicians try to respond to immediately relevant issues, their efforts are mostly populism. There’s no competition between ideologies and national development strategies. The election campaign is based on individual personalities – and the battle will focus on those personalities, becoming dirtier than ever. They’ll be taking legal action and making excuses for themselves all the time. But ordinary citizens won’t care much about all that – they’re busy with their own concerns.

Vladimir Petukhov, research manager, VTsIOM:

All our polls indicate some shifts in how people are feeling. Old fears are fading, the middle class is growing. But expectations are also growing – people are demanding more from the authorities. There’s a clearly-expressed demand for better quality of life, developing human capital, politics with a human face. People want stable employment, normal working conditions, social security. And this will affect voter moods.

Mikhail Tarusin, social studies department manager, InOP:

Our politicians can be terribly alienated from the people. They still have faith in PR techniques, just like they did ten years ago. They have faith in administrative resources. But ordinary citizens are much smarter than they’re given credit for being. And no matter how politicians try to fool or trick them, election results will be what the politicians deserve.