Staunton, August 25 – It is likely to be difficult if not impossible to know whether calls by the Ingush opposition to boycott the September 8 local elections will prove effective, Timur Akiyev says, because participation in such voting there has always been extremely low. If more voters say away, that in itself will be unlikely to have an impact on the authorities.
But the boycott calls nonetheless may matter in two important ways, increasing the significance of opposition groups and the importance of local councils among the population. The latter could prove especially important, the Ekho Kavkaza commentator says, because that would challenge the powers that be (ekhokavkaza.com/a/30128075.html).
The republic government and behind it Moscow have counted on local councils to rubber stamp anything the authorities in either place want. But by suggesting that elections to these councils are worth boycotting, the Ingush opposition has signaled that these bodies are potentially more important and even independent-minded.
“The authorities,” he suggests, “are afraid not of empty ballot boxes but of any experiments which they do not direct and control. Therefore, they avoid any competition with independent social structures even wen they have the opportunity to win a victory in such competitions.”
But the boycott carries with it risks for the opposition as well, Akiyev continues. It excludes the opportunity of its leaders to call attention to falsification of the voting and thus be in a position to challenge the legitimacy of the voting. Unless the percentage of people turning out is extremely low, that will be harder to do.
Up to now, the commentator says, the municipal authorities have ignored the boycott appeals. But for the opposition, their views are far less important than a possible response by Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov, the new head of the republic with whom the opposition very much hopes to enter into a dialogue.