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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

Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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