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No big surprises expected from upcoming regional elections in Russia

August 17, 2015, 17:12 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Pavel Smertin

MOSCOW, August 17. /TASS/. The regional elections due in Russia on September 13 will hardly bring any surprises, as the rating of the ruling party, propped up by a high rating of the president, is rather high, experts say. The main intrigue of the elections is not in participation of non-systemic opposition and not in how many votes the ruling party will secure, but in the quality of the election process, experts believe.

Canvassing has started in Russia on Monday. On September 13, "the single voting day," many Russian regions will be electing governors (in ten regular and 14 early elections), deputies to regional parliaments and municipalities. All in all, 10,700 elections will take place in 83 Russian regions. Fifty-five of 74 parties that have the right, are planning to take part in elections of different level.

In covering the election campaign, most media put emphasis on participation of non-systemic opposition, first of all the Democratic Coalition on the basis of RPR-Parnas Party. In mid-April, Parnas of Mikhail Kasyanov and Ilya Yashin agreed with Alexei Navalny’s Party of Progress about single candidates’ lists in elections due in the coming two years. Three more groups joined the coalition - Democratic Choice, Party of December 5 and Libertarian Party of Russia. As Parnas is the only party having registration, nomination proceeded only on its party lists. The Yabloko Party has as usual opted for an independent participation in the elections.

Parnas that had been trying to register for elections to four regional parliaments was allowed to participate only in elections in the Kostroma region. Defective subscription lists prevented it from taking part in the other elections. Many experts said that Parnas’s failure was logical as its political activity in the province was weak. Other experts accused the federal authorities of seeking to remove the non-systemic opposition from the elections. They, for their part, officially dismissed the accusations, advising the opposition to collect signatures more accurately.

Anyway, in any case experts see election chances of non-systemic opposition as not very high. "A limited group of people is ready to vote for the democrats," the director general of the Centre for Political Technologies, Igor Bunin, told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. "People don’t believe that the opposition has something to offer," he said.

"The regional authorities and election commissions have done all to avoid surprises at the elections," the first vice president of the Centre for Political Technologies, Boris Makarenko, has said. "At the moment, all opinion polls suggest that growing crisis phenomena in the economy and a decline in people’s incomes so far have failed to affect attitude of Russian nationals to the authorities," he said.

As long as the rating of United Russia remains that high, any fifth party (apart from the parties in parliament - United Russia, Communist Party, A Just Russia Party and Liberal Democratic Party) will find it difficult to qualify for regional parliaments, the expert noted. "This can happen in some places, but as isolated occurrences," he added.

"On the whole, perhaps the main intrigue of the elections is not in how successful positions of United Russia across the country will be - its ratings are fairly good, - but in how legitimate the election campaign will be in perception of political, federal and regional classes, and the population in the long run," the president of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, told Tass.

"Will the regionals manage not to overdo with using the notorious administrative resource, and how will the federal center, the judicial system, react to this. The main stake in this case is not top places, but the efficiency and quality of the election process," he said.

Surprises do happen at practically any elections, but in this case they will hardly be big, the expert believes. "On the whole, the authorities now have a leeway given a high rating of the president, which indirectly helps keep confidence in the regime," he said.

Debuts or advance of some bright party forces are highly unlikely, the political analyst added.

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