Staunton, September 16 – In the United States, it is often said that “all politics is local,” that is, that outcomes are driven by the attitudes and feelings of voters in particular areas rather than by national points of view. In Russia, up to now, the opposite has been true; but the September 8 elections suggest that Russian politics may be moving toward the US model.
IdelReal journalist Dmitry Lyubimov says that the results of the various parties in Mari El as opposed to Tatarstan and Bashkortostan reflect a combination of all-Russian and local attitudes with the latter having become significantly more important than they were in earlier elections (idelreal.org/a/30160996.html).
In Mari El, opposition parties increased their representation n the republic parliament and took control of the city councils in Ioshkar-Ola and Volzhsk. Vasily Popov, a local political analyst, says that the reasons for United Russia’s poor showing reflect popular anger about the party’s policies in Moscow and the behavior of republic officials in advance of the vote.
The residents of Mari El voted against United Russia because they associate it with various unpopular actions in the Russian Federation as a whole such as the raising of the pension age and increases in communal charges. But they were also upset because the powers that be kept some parties off the ballot, something that sent participation tumbling.
The authorities used what administrative “resources” they could, but the results of the vote show that despite this, they were not able to get the outcome they hoped for. And the biggest reason for that is the behavior of republic head Aleksandre Yevtifeyev, the political analyst says.
“In 2017, Yevstifeyev at the elections for head of Mari El was supported by two political forces otherwise opposed to one another, the communists and United Russia. But at the end oof 2018, it became clear that the head of the republic was given preference to the party of power … [And] voters drew conclusions from that.”
Adding to his and United Russia’s difficulties in Mari El is the poor condition of the republic economy. It is far worse than those in neighboring republics, Popov continues, and people want change. Now the opposition having gained seats has also gained the chance to show that it can govern and not just talk.