Staunton, April 23 – Members of the Duma and those who aspire to be are already assembling personal staffs to organize their campaigns in 2021, an indication that the Russian government may do away with party list voting and organize the elections exclusively on the basis of single-member districts., according to the Petersburg Politics Foundation.
The analytic center says that the authorities are considering four possible variants for the 2021 Duma elections, “the most revolutionary of which – doing away with party lists – would allow the authorities, in the opinion of the experts, to disorient the negatively inclined voters” as they would no longer have a target to aim at (ura.news/articles/1036277962).
It would also give the authorities the opportunity to exploit “the tiredness of the electorate” as far as the existing parties are concerned. But this approach has a number of minuses, perhaps the greatest of which are the fact that Moscow would have less control over many members and there would be more intense lobbying to create blocs in the new parliament.
Mikhail Vinogradov, the head of Petersburg Politics, spokes with Vera Chernysheva and Leonid Fedorov of the URA news agency about this. He said this scenario was also of interest to the powers that be because the existing opposition is completely unprepared for such a move and the regime, having the most resources, could control things without parties.
The foundation report identified three other possible arrangements for 2021 – “the first and most predictable is the maintenance of the existing system,” the second would involve changing the leaders of existing parties or creating new parties in their stead, and the third would involve having the various parties play a more active role, even though that would entail risks.
Leonid Davydov of the Davydov.Index telegram channel says that “for the authorities undoubtedly doing away with party lists would be the preferred way to go.” But he doubts that the Kremlin is prepared to make the effort over the next year that would allow that to happen. Instead, he said, both the election and the Duma they produce are likely to look the same as now.