Thursday, September 27, 2018

Second Round Voting in Regions Attracts More Protest Voters, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 26 – The number of Russians taking part in second round voting jumped significantly, an indication that they view these elections and their own voices as more significant, a development that by itself represents a challenge to the Kremlin which has sought to make all voting entirely predictable and thus essentially meaningless, Russians experts say.

            Elizaveta Antonova and Vyacheslav Kozlov of RBC point out that participation in voting went up from 36 percent in the first round to 47 in the second in Khabarovsk, from 32 percent to 38 percent in Vladimir, and even, albeit very slightly, in the much-contested Primorsky Kray (

            The two journalists survey several Russian journalists about what this means in the current environment of lower ratings for Vladimir Putin and United Russia and of greater protest voting.

            “In the second round, that part of the electorate which did not go to vote earlier because it did not believe that its votes mattered joined in the second round to the protest voting,” Moscow political scientist Aleksandr Kynyev tells them.  This trend matters but it is too early to say whether it will continue and thus threaten the regime next time around, he continues. 

            Tatyana Stanovaya, another political analyst, says that the Presidential Administration is already focusing on how to respond given that it does have room for maneuver.  The key figure in this is the first deputy head of the administration, Sergey Kiriyenko, whose stock has undoubtedly climbed because he warned against staying with some candidates who lost.

            “In her opinion,” the RBC journalists write, “now Kiriyenko could use the situation after the elections in order to again raise the issue about the reform of the presidential plenipotentiaries and in general seek to reduce the role of external corporate players who have been exerting significant influence on the adoption of pre-election decisions.

            Yevgeny Minchenko, a third Moscow political analyst, says that the system of evaluating candidates for government which worked in the past has now suffered a clear failure; and as a result, the Kremlin will have to revisit it in order to ensure that its preferred candidates will win out second rounds or not.

            And Rostislav Turovsky, a fourth such analyst, says that what has happened shows to the Kremlin that its candidates have in some cases not drawn the necessary conclusion that they must work on their own to win support and not assume that Kremlin backing is enough to ensure their victories. 
            In sum, Minchenko says, “the model which ‘worked in the fat years, will not work at a time when people are tightening their belts.” 

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