Russian Politics, & Personalities

Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

United Russia’s Prospects for the 2011 Duma Election

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Even Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s envoy to NATO apologized for the poor timing of the announcement.  While Rogozin’s Twitter comment may have been a joke, Dmitry Medvedev’s announcement yesterday was not.  Looking nervously at the camera, the President of Russia stated that he was instructing the military to ramp up, and prepare for a missile defense shield in Europe.  Speaking slowly and clearly, Medvedev also threatened to place Iskanders in Kaliningrad.

This was the second time in as many days that Medvedev had come out with a big defense announcement.  On Monday, at a meeting in Vladikavkaz, the President had claimed that the 2008 war in Georgia had been carried out in an attempt to prevent Georgian ascension to NATO.  While the threats and posturing are nothing new, the timing did seem a bit suspicious.  The elections for the State Duma are in 10 days, and the Russian President is leading the party lists for United Russia, the majority party.

For the leading party, United Russia, the numbers do not look promising.  In the last few weeks there have been several leaks about how badly United Russia is doing in the polls. Levada Center, the leading polling organization in Russia, revealed the results of its most recent poll.  Levada takes this poll on a monthly basis, and always asks the same question: “If the election for the Russian State Duma was held next Sunday, would you vote in them, and which party would you vote for?”

Levada’s most recent results revealed that United Russia’s numbers are falling, with just 51% of their respondents answering that they would vote for United Russia.  In the same poll, the Communists would get 20% of the vote.  Sergei Mironov’s party would get only 7%, and LDPR (Zhirinovsky’s party) would receive 14%.

Compare this to the other polling organizations in Russia, VTsIOM, and FOM.  VTsIOM’s most recent poll only gives United Russia 40%, and FOM gives United Russia 39%.  Both organizations give the Communists 13%.

To give you an idea of how bad this is, United Russia currently holds 64.3% of the seats in the State Duma.  The authorities are patently worried.  In early November the President’s office leaked their own internal poll numbers.  These numbers were closer to VTsIOM’s numbers.  The leak appeared to be deliberate.  A portrayal of weakness from people who do not normally like to appear weak.

So the numbers are bad, and different regions have sought to make up those numbers using “administrative resources”.  This has, so far, included pressuring the clergy to urge their congregants to vote for United Russia, publishing posters with the same background as the Election Commission’s posters, and hanging up posters in public schools.

Stories have also leaked that governors’ jobs are on the line, if they fail to produce a certain result. In Novgorod, recent poll numbers placed United Russia at 40%, but fail to take into account regions like Chechnya where Ramzan Kadyrov has promised to deliver “110% of the vote”.  While most people have treated Kadyrov’s oath as a joke, in the 2007 election, Chechnya did deliver over 90% of the vote to United Russia.

Utilizing so-called “administrative resources”, and with help from Governors anxious to keep their jobs, United Russia could still potentially receive 60% of the seats in the next parliamentary session.  While this is not a Constitutional majority, it would enable the ruling party, and Vladimir Putin to claim a mandate.  A necessity if they intend to follow through on their “modernization” platform.  And, perhaps more importantly, a necessity for Putin to shore up support for the Presidential elections scheduled in March.


Written by Nina Jobe

November 24, 2011 at 10:56 AM

United Russia

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United Russia is still in the process of holding their “primaries” in order to create their party lists for their big conference in September (as far as I can determine, this is something like National Conventions in the US, but probably not as fun).  The Moscow Times had a piece today outlining how the primaries are going, but the process is so convoluted and confusing that it is a wonder anyone follows it.  But that might be the point, to make it so confusing that people don’t want to follow it.

Anyway, it raised a few questions in my mind, not the least of which is this: if Deputy PM Igor Sechin is actually running for a seat in the Duma (which I still think is slightly shady, to say the least), does that mean he is a member of United Russia?  I know that something like 5 members of the Russian Government are registered members of United Russia, but I’ve never been able to quite pin down who those 5 (or so) people are.

  • Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik (maybe);
  • Deputy PM Vyacheslav Volodin (was a member before becoming Deputy PM, and never resigned, I think);
  • MChS Minister Sergei Shoigu (supposedly a founding member);
  • Vladimir Putin (apparently still is not a member, but in charge, anyway… whatever);
  • Deputy PM Dmitry Kozak (I think);
  • Deputy PM Alexander Zhukov (actually, I am pretty sure that he is a member);
  • Sergei Sobyanin (might have been, but he doesn’t count anymore because he’s Mayor of Moscow)…

Obviously, my list is incomplete, and full of holes.

I wonder if it bothers Putin and Co that we laugh at them behind our hands (and sometimes more publicly) for the mockery they continue to make of themselves.  But how can anyone actually take them seriously?  And at this point, why do they even bother?  I know the answer, of course, legitimacy.  But how much legitimacy can you have when you act in this manner?

EDIT: Slon.ru had a piece this morning (or morning my time, anyway) on the illegality of allowing members of the Government to participate in the Putin’s Peoples Front (or ONF).  The article actually names names.  The names include the ones I named previously, and a few more that I missed:

  • Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev (who is running in the primaries, as far as I know); and
  • First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov.


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Is this Misha Prokhorov’s campaign strategy?  If it is, I’m not convinced it is a good one, and I don’t see it ending well.  But maybe he just wants to get his name out there.  In that case, it may actually work.  He’ll just need to move from place to place accusing officials of conspiring against him.

Written by Nina Jobe

August 9, 2011 at 11:14 PM

Posted in Elections

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Duma Election Update

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Levada Center has come out with its latest poll numbers.  The numbers should come as no surprise.  Everyone is staying pretty steady in the polls.  I’ll break it down for you, anyway.

  • United Russia (Party of Crooks, and Thieves) is up one percentage point from last month at 54%.
  • Coming in second are the Communists with 18% (up one percentage point from last month).
  • Third place goes to LDPR at 12% (down one percentage point).
  • A Just Russia trails at 7% (up two points from last month).
  • And Misha Prokhorov’s party (so much easier to remember than it’s real name, Right Cause) got 2% in the Levada poll.

Quite frankly, these numbers are all a little sad.  United Russia’s numbers are pitiful when compared to the previous election.  But I have a feeling that there are a few announcements coming that will make this election a bit more exciting.

First, Prokhorov is planning a big PR campaign starting next month.  I haven’t heard any details yet, but will be sure to share when I find out more.  This will, I think, get his name out there, and help his poll numbers.

Second, United Russia have postponed their congress until late September (this may turn into Gazprom: Part 2).  The congress is supposed to finalise United Russia’s platform (something that I’m still not sure they have), and decide who will head the party list.  Apparently, according to RIA Novosti, United Russia is hoping that Putin will head their list.

So some exciting things may be coming, but all in all, I think that this election cycle will be pretty bland, and predictable.

At least there are always the competing Putin Medvedev posters scattered around Moscow to keep us entertained.

Written by Nina Jobe

July 26, 2011 at 9:59 PM

Posted in Duma, Elections

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My Duma Election 2011 Predictions

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Now that the Duma elections are getting closer, and Mikhail Prokhorov has declared his intention of getting 15% of the vote in December, I have decided to post my predictions for the elections.  I found this chart over at Wikipedia of polls conducted by VTsIOM, and Levada, FOM (?), and I think it is odd that Levada is consistently higher in favour of United Russia.  But all of the polls do seem to show that the apathy among the general public is growing, as well as the dissatisfaction with United Russia.

Now for my numbers:

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Written by Nina Jobe

July 2, 2011 at 1:42 PM


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By now the elections should be over.  The results appear to be in favour of United Russia (huge shock, I know).

Meanwhile, the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) is on the verge of getting banned.  I am not a fan of DPNI.  Frankly, they are too extreme for my tastes.  But Europe has similar parties, and they aren’t banned.  The UK has the British Nationalist Party.  And how does the populace react?  The populace, in the form of the media, mocks them.  The BNP are allowed to have a platform, and to register candidates etc.  And a small percentage of the population votes for them because they speak to deep-seated fears that are in some ways legit (though extreme).  But for the most part, they are a fringe group that most people ignore, or they are fodder for comedians.

I understand the fear that the Russian government has.  I do.  But by not allowing these groups to exist, you are forcing them to become more and more radical, and eventually it will backfire on you.  Either with the creation of these militias, and/or more violent protests like the one we saw on Manezh back in December.  You are better off letting them register, garnering a few seats in the Duma, if they can, and then mock them in the press.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the blasts in Moscow the past few days may be the work of Kvachkov, and the People’s Militia, rather than Doku Umarov.  The evidence doesn’t really seem to point to either group, however.  I’ll update as more information comes out.

Written by Nina Jobe

March 13, 2011 at 1:55 PM