I wanted to know more about the opposition inside Russia and the possible action around this summer’s Regional Elections. I assume that the war will be a major issue for voters and that this will be a particularly energetic campaign.
To get started I found the most accessible source on Russian elections (for an English, western audience: Russian Election Monitor. The intro of their article lays out the main points of interest for analyst Alexander Kynev:
Russia is a highly diverse country from the point of view of its regions. Those who have the slightest idea of its electoral geography know quite well that there are opposition/protest-oriented, pro-governmental, and neutral Russian regions. Therefore, when regional elections are held, their impact on the public at large and the deriving perception of certain trends in the country depend largely on the regions in which the elections are held this very year.
In view of the upcoming elections of 2022, the following questions are of most interest in terms of an election campaign and its outcomes:
- Will the regional authorities massively apply the acquired right to cancel elections via party lists?
- What will be the authorities’ attitude concerning specific parties?
- Which parties won’t feel the pressure (interference) of the authorities in regional and local elections? The most interesting aspect is related to the governmental attitude towards the Communist party, Just Russia, and the “New people” party on the regional level;
- What will the registration of urban and civil activists to the Moscow municipal elections look like? How will they be nominated? What ratio will be applied in relation to the method of nomination (i.e., how many of such activists will be self-nominated/nominated by Yabloko, New people, Communist party, and so on)?;
- Will there be a continuation of the campaign against the Communist party? If yes, how massive would the campaign be?
- Will the ‘New people’ party have a chance to take advantage of new opportunities (for ex., the right to nominate candidates without collecting signatures) aimed at strengthening its party ranks?
- What will the dynamics of the protest voting be (even in the traditionally pro-governmental areas)?
And finally, the main question to answer at the end of these elections is: Will there be a further confrontation? Or, at the local level, will the government attempts to negotiate with and/or co-opt some part of the opposition?
Wikipedia lists the whole set of elections in its article “Single voting day September 11, 2022”: governorships, regional legislatures, and municipal councils across the country are ending their terms.
In REM’s analysis United Russia is certain to win almost every contest. Of the 11 regional capital cities holding elections only 2 face a serious challenge from oppositionists. UR is expected to win every governorship and 4 of 6 legislatures.
In the article Elections in a close order formation REM describes the difficulties posed to opposition parties by last year’s electoral reforms: advisory members of election commissions have been stripped of voting rights, election commissions for municipalities have been abolished, and convicted oppositionists are banned from voting or seeking office. The war in Ukraine repression brought further restrictions and authorities moved to repress anti-war protesters.
A restrictive electoral system called the “municipal filter” has already in place from 2012. Under these rules, nominees for Governor can only register if they have the signatures of 5-10% of parliamentary deputies. Given the near-monopoly that United Russia has on the legislatures this presents an insurmountable obstacle to many opposition candidates.
In relation to the political parties, it is most interesting to see whether the massive campaign against the Communist party would continue. And by this campaign, we mean information attacks, as well as administrative methods and violence used against specific candidates.Alexander Kynev, writing for REM
[ Featured image from Kommersant. ]