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MOSCOW, July 23 (Itar-Tass) - Acting Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin is clear leader by election ratings among other candidates in Moscow mayoral election, opinion pollsters said Tuesday. If the election took place next Sunday, 54% of Muscovites would vote for him, experts of the All Russia Public Opinion Study Center /WCIOM/ told a news conference.
Sociologists noted stability of Sobyanin's rating: during the previous poll on July 9-10, the percentage of the Muscovites ready to vote for him was the same.
President of the center for political technologies Igor Bunin believes that Sobyanin will easily win the election and that his rivals will be fighting for the second and third places.
"The figures /showing Sobyanin's high rating/ also indicate that losses are possible, but they are unlikely to be large. Sobyanin "ate up" part of the electorate belonging to United Russia, A Just Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party and even Civil Platform's /Mikhail Prokhorov's Party/," the expert explained. Bi-polarization of the election campaign is taking place; the struggle is mainly unfolding for the second and third places between RPR-Parnas's nominee Alexei Navalny and Communist candidate Ivan Melnikov, " Bunin said.
In his opinion, Navalny's prospects are better. At the same time, Bunin noted the "consolidation of Navalny's rivals."
Earlier on Tuesday, head of the WCIOM department for socio-political studies Stepan Lvov said Opposition activist Navalny's popularity increases together with mistrust in him. During the July 9-10 poll, 14% of Muscovites had a positive opinion of him, whereas 33% mistrusted him. The July 20-21 poll showed that the percentage of those who mistrust Navalny has increased to 39%, while the number of those with positive opinions only increased to 17%, Lvov said.
The rating of Communist candidate Ivan Melnikov has increased from 2 to 4%. Melnikov now leads Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin, whose rating decreased from 3 to 2% in the past ten days, WCIOM said.
Igor Bunin noted that the present election campaign is much more interesting than previous ones. "Whereas earlier it was "a one-way street case," Sobyanin now has found himself a rival, and in this, the Moscow election differs from other regions', where leaders simply put pressure on their opponents," he said.
Political analyst Alexei Zudin, too, believes that Sobyanin will win the election hands down. The growth of Navalny's "anti-rating" is not only reaction to his personality but also indicates that Muscovites approve the performance of Moscow bodies. "Under no conditions can he /Navalny/ win, as cannot a second- and third-level candidate. How Navalny takes his defeat has principal significance," Zudin said.
"The protest movement is now on the decline. Navalny is taking part in the election for the sake of claiming election fraud and giving new dynamics to the protest movement," the political analyst suggested.
Chairman of the board of the fund for developing civil society Konstantin Kostin did not rule out that after his defeat, Navalny "will try to give a certain new impulse to the protest movement," that that he would find it difficult to do so.
In the experts' view, Sergei Sobyanin, the election’s race favorite, will do his best to make the election procedure transparent."
"Muscovites' preferences are obvious. The thing is Navalny will lose the election in a fair fight. It will be difficult to talk about fraud when we see a candidate lagging behind the leader by six times," Kostin explained.
Political analysts also noted the fact that an opponent to the authorities in Moscow elections always got 11 to 15% of votes. "In both election campaigns, Yuri Luzhkov's opponents - Sergei Kiriyenko and Alexander Lebedev - got 11 to 13% each time," director of the international institute for political expertise Yevgeny Minchenko said, "it approximates the figure which Navalny may get; perhaps, /he'll get/ 15%. It is the figure which the opponent to the authorities gets."
Kostin said if "Navalny didn't run, the Yabloko candidate would show these figures. There are 15 to 20 percent voters /comprising the protesting electorate/, and it's not that important who represents their interests," he noted. Igor Bunin estimates the protesting electorate in Moscow at 20%.
1,200 people took part in the WCIOM poll; the margin of error did not exceed 3.9%.