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Appointed Moscow mayor stepping down in order to run in direct election

June 05, 2013, 12:19 UTC+3

The Moscow mayoral election will take place two years earlier than designated by law

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The Moscow mayoral election will take place two years earlier than designated by law. On Tuesday, Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin, appointed to the post by the president, announced his early resignation in order to participate in the September 8 election. Within the next few days, he will meet with the president who is expected to give his consent. It is already known that the Opposition will be unable to put up a single candidate to compete with Sobyanin.

The incumbent mayor motivated his decision by the society's demand: two-thirds of Muscovites support the idea of the post of mayor to be elective office, the RBK Daily writes. According to recent opinion polls, a majority of citizens wish the mayoral election to coincide with the gubernatorial polls in the Moscow region on September 8, 2013.

"It doesn't befit Moscow to lag behind other regions," Sobyanin said. He reminded that the opportunity to hold direct election in Moscow only appeared in July 2012 as the city adopted the relevant law. Although federal legislation allows the regions not to resort to this procedure, the city authorities made a choice in favor of democracy.

"The city is implementing programs many of which are conflicting; they require consolidation and support. The election is the most legitimate form to receive such support," Sergei Sobyanin stated.

Head of the Public Chamber commission on the mass media Konstantin Remchukov, cited by the Kommersant, said "the elected mayor assumes other political weight, including at the federal level."

The Moscow "creative class" wishes to elect the mayor, Remchukov underlined, but only if all the candidates are allowed to run, including Opposition hardliners.

According to the poll conducted by the VTsIOM public opinion study center in October 2012, if Sergei Sobyanin were pitted against rivals in the election, he would gather 56 percent of vote, while his hypothetical opponent, Mikhail Prokhorov, would come a very poor second with a mere 9 percent. However, Sobyanin's ratings tend to decrease. An opinion poll by the Public Opinion Foundation said he would win 46 percent of vote if the election were next Sunday, while Mikhail Prokhorov would win 9 percent. The newspaper reminds that Mr Prokhorov gathered 20.5 percent of votes at the 2012 presidential polls.

On Tuesday, Mikhail Prokhorov told the Kommersant that he would decide on whether he would run for Moscow mayor by June 9.

RPR-PARNAS co-chairman Vladimir Ryzhkov said the Party would consider nomination of its candidate within the next few days. He believes the Opposition will be unable to agree on a single candidate.

Several factors are cited to explain the necessity to hold an early mayoral election in Moscow, the Moskovsky Komsomolets underlines. Firstly, Sobyanin was appointed to the post by the then President Dmitry Medvedev. The appointment was preceded by the scandalous ousting of Yuri Luzhkov, and many do not still regard Sobyanin as an independent politician who has come to resolve the problems of the city and its residents. If he wins the election, he will shed "this heritage" and will be able to implement his numerous programs, which are not always welcome, a city administration source told the newspaper.

It is dangerous to wait till 2015, as Moscow is facing the election to the city legislature, which will be unpredictable and very complicated for the authorities, the source noted. The number of Opposition deputies in the next legislature is expected to reach at least 20 percent. If city dwellers do not see the effect from numerous road construction projects, medical and educational reforms in the near future, the protest voting may have an even more painful result for Town Hall.

Sobyanin enjoys noticeable support of Russians, and the situation here has improved compared with the beginning of his tenure, director of the Levada Center Lev Gudkov told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "Simply people have not realized what is behind the early election intrigue. I believe it will not have great significance because it is clear that Sobyanin is the creation of the incumbent president. He is in the reflexion of Putin's popularity, so citizens believe there is no alternative to him, especially because no obvious opponents to Sobyanin are still in sight."

The Vedomosti believes that electing Sobyanin as mayor will imply that Dmitry Medvedev will keep his post of prime minister and the formal status of Russia's number two person. The newspaper notes that experts have long considered Sobyanin as a contender for the post of premier.

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