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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

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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