Regional elections in Russia: Election won, reputation lost
The Russian ruling party has just won the regional election again. But a look to Moscow shows how the political landscape is changing.
For weeks there had been protests before the Russian local elections. At first sight, however, little has changed on the day after in the country: the Keml continues to control most regions, in many places were confirmed by the Kremlin enthroned governors in office.
But the political gauge in the centralized country has always been the capital. And just here, the Kremlin had to accept hard losses. Among those who voted (with voter turnout at a low 21 percent), according to preliminary results, nearly half voted against the candidates of the Kremlin party United Russia, which supports the course of President Vladimir Putin. The protests on the street have shown their effect. Just one example: Valeria Kasamara, a respectable candidate of the Kremlin party and vice rector of a prestigious university, was a no-name politician in her constituency. Its main advantage was evidently not related to the Kremlin.
In the future, 20 seats in the 45-member city parliament will be occupied by parties other than United Russia. So far, their share was in the single-digit range. Instead of five communists as before, in future around a dozen Communist deputies will be sitting in the city Duma. In addition, the moderate opposition party Yabloko has managed to re-enter the panel. She will in future make three deputies.
Alternatives to the party of power
Although the democratic opposition around the characters Alexei Nawalny and Dmitry Gudkov was robbed of their candidates - they were not allowed to compete. Many who cast their vote tactically voted for one of the legal alternatives to the so-called Party of Power. It was not an ideological choice, it was a vote on the Putin system. In other words, whoever voted for the communists is not necessarily a communist. But he does not like the Putin system. It's hard to say what the election result would look like under really fair conditions. Only one thing is certain: For United Russia the election would certainly not have gone better.
Of course, yesterday there was no presidential election, but only a local election instead. Putin can continue to pretend that the event does not concern him. Even for the weeks of protests in the capital, he remained silent for the longest time. The election does not throw Putin out of the presidential chair. But it shows that his power base is gradually weakening.
The reputation is lost
For the Kremlin, the Moscow result means more political competition, more unpleasant questions, a rougher tone. The power elite is ill prepared for real political competition - as the last few weeks have shown. On the diffuse displeasure in the population she has no answers. It is unclear how the authorities will communicate their messages successfully in the future. For the Duma Election 2021 and the fateful year 2024 - when Putin's term is over, according to the constitution - she has to come up with something.
For the Kremlin-loyal Moscow authorities, the election is (just) won, but the reputation is lost. Although the willingness of the average citizen to participate actively in rallies is still limited, but more and more showed according to surveys sympathy with the rebellious. In addition, the young generation - main protagonists of the protests in Moscow - is reasonably fearless. Despite repression, the movement could not really be weakened. "The Siloviki do not understand that despite the wave of arrests, the protest continues to be organized," political observer Sergei Medvedev said recently. The political lines of conflict remained. He sees his country approaching a long "time of turmoil".