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Local elections in Russia had fewer breaches and were competitive

September 09, 2013, 9:59 UTC+3
The promises for an active competition still could not attract voters
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MOSCOW, September 9 (Itar-Tass World Service) - On Sunday, on the single voting day Russia’s 80 regions had elections of various levels. Those were elections of governors, mayors, and deputies to regional and local parliaments. The most resonant was the mayoral election in Moscow - a direct election for the first time over ten years. Registered breaches of the election legislation were fewer than in previous campaigns, including the campaigns of the parliamentary and presidential elections. A self-nominated candidate, representing the power, Sergei Sobyanin won the election in Moscow with 51.3% of votes, early results say. Well-known oppositionist Alexei Navalny, who was the second, received support from 27.28% of citizens. The turnout was low - about 35%.

The promises for an active competition still could not attract voters, the Vedomosti writes. In most regions the turnover was not above 35%, which is by 1.7 times lighter than at the parliamentary elections in 2011, and by 1.9 times lighter than at the presidential election in 2012.

Experts of the Committee of civil initiatives, whose views the newspaper is publishing, are sure: a rather free access for new, including non-system, players to the political market in some regions co-existed with pushing those away in others. Very different phenomena happened in Russia on Sunday. In places like Moscow or Yekaterinburg and, for example, in Buryatia, the real elections featured competition between new candidates, having their programs and ideas. Other regions had the single voting day, where possible results had been clear beforehand. The experts of the Committee of civil initiatives say more than every second refusal to register a candidate occurred in four regions.

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta has interrogated several experts, who confirmed competitive elections are back in Russia. However, despite the demand from the Kremlin administration to have elections everywhere, not all the regions chose to do so. Experts say, the reason is that in different regions the power is solving different tasks.

A member of the Moscow Carnegie Centre Nikolai Petrov told the newspaper that he considered as positive even the single cases, like in Moscow or Yekaterinburg, where representatives of the non-system opposition, Alexei Navalny and Evgeny Roizman, had been allowed to the elections.

Deputy Head of the Centre for Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin is even more optimistic: “Those elections have demonstrated that the politics is back in Russia.”

Any number of the votes, earned honestly, is more valuable than some high percentage, Sergei Sobyanin said adding his result was “a very good figure.”

The Kommersant writes about the Moscow mayoral election. The early reports say that Sergei Sobyanin gained 51.32% of the vote, Alexei Navalny - 27.27%, candidate of CPRF /Communist Party of the Russian Federation/ Ivan Melnikov - 10.71%, Yabloko’s Leader Sergei Mitrokhin - 3.52%, Mikhail Degtyarev of LDPR /Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia/ - 2.86%, and Nikolai Levichev of A Just Russia - 2.79%.

“We have passed an exam in a clear and honest election,” the newspaper quotes Sergei Sobyanin as saying. “We have made everything possible for it, we helped candidates to get registered, we have made everything possible to make sure there are no falsifications during the election.” Sergei Sobyanin said on Sunday that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had asked how the election went, but had not congratulated him with the victory yet: “On the phone, he asked how the election went; I said it was still too far to the election’s results. We agreed to discuss the further situation tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.”

The Novye Izvestia reports the Moscow precincts did not have a blatant number of breaches, compared, for example, with those registered at the parliamentary elections back in 2011. The candidates, including Nikolai Levichev and Sergei Mitrokhin, who visited the Pubic headquarters for observing the election, confirmed there were no major or mass breaches during the voting. The headquarters were organized by the Moscow Public Chamber.

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