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United Russia Primed for Primaries

Published: May 22, 2013 (Issue # 1760)


ByNikolai Petrov

United Russia started primaries last week inmost ofthe regions that will hold elections onSept. 8.

Primaries have been initiated andare now overseen bypresidential deputy chief ofstaffVyacheslav Volodin. Their purpose is toimprove thequality ofparty candidates andto prevent conflicts among theelite when forming party lists. TheKremlins goal is not tocontrol theprocess since primaries are largely thedomain oflocal party authorities. If governors can produce thedesired results, Moscow does not interfere. Whats more, United Russia primaries are consultative innature anddo not have adirect effect. Widespread manipulation ofthe primaries sparked anumber ofscandals. In2011, then-Prime MinisterVladimir Putinhad topersonally step into resolve one ofthose scandals prior toState Duma elections inthe Primorye region. Theresult was that election results fromtwo polling stations were nullified.

TheAll-Russia Peoples Front, anumbrella structure intended toreduce theimpact ofUnited Russias declining popularity, has taken part inthe United Russia primaries ever since its inception andhad aneven greater presence this year than ever before. Theprimaries are held ina number of different formats proposed bythe federal party leadership. Thefirst format employs special party electors andis mainly used forgubernatorial primaries inboth direct elections andregions such as Dagestan andIngushetia, where theparliaments have chosen toappoint their governors. Thesecond format was employed last year andallows forthe participation ofelectors frompartner organizations.

Thethird andmost liberal ofthe new formats forprimaries was given atrial run last fall inthe elections forthe legislative assembly ofSakhalin, garnering 50 percent ofthe vote forthe party ofpower forthe first time inmany years. This type ofprimary is similar toordinary elections inthat it reflects thewill ofvoters andis accompanied byan election campaign andmedia coverage ofeach stage ofthe electoral process. Any citizen who can enlist thesupport of10 United Russia members has theright torun as acandidate.

These elections are noteworthy forthe decline inthe number ofUnited Russia candidates, atrend already evident inthe primaries. Some political analysts are already claiming that theAll-Russia Peoples Front is gradually becoming thenew ruling party. Inthe gubernatorial elections inChukotka, all ofthe candidates, including theincumbent, are with thepeoples front. Thesame looks tobe true inthe mayoral race inVoronezh, where theincumbent is also with thefront. As forthe two most troublesome regions forUnited Russia Smolensk, where thelegislative assembly will be elected, andRyazan, where theCity Duma will be formed United Russia is strengthening thelocal party lists with high-profile State Duma deputies andmembers ofthe Federation Council.

Despite theauthorities slapdash attempt tomanipulate theresults byshifting thevote tolate summer, theSept. 8 elections do not bode well forUnited Russia. Atbest, theparty might be able tominimize its losses. Theresults ofthe campaign will be analyzed atthe United Russia congress inNovember, but significant changes inparty politics should become evident much sooner, when theAll-Russia Peoples Front congress is held inJune immediately following theconclusion ofthe United Russia primaries.

Nikolai Petrov is aprofessor ofpolitical science attheHigher School ofEconomics in Moscow.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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