The Russians go to the polls on Sunday for regional elections in the middle of opponent Alexey Navalny’s poisoning case. His supporters demand a “smart vote” to bring the candidates down from power.
The Russians will vote on September 13 for the third and final day in 41 regions of the country. Voters are urged to elect their governors, regional or municipal assemblies and four deputies to the national parliament.
Usually there are no major efforts. But this year, Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, is in trouble. The election takes place against the background of the poisoning of opponent number 1, Alexeï Navalny, and in a more general context of distrust of power.
In a difficult economic and social context, shaken by allegations of corruption, Vladimir Putin’s popularity is disappearing with only 30% of favorable views, according to the latest polls.
“Vote to change the system”
The campaign was thus strengthened by the presence of opponents, especially in Novosibirsk (Siberia), the third largest city in the country. An unprecedented alliance with some thirty independent candidates is challenging United Russia. The campaign was particularly active there, with large signs showing the slogan “Tell them” No! “and” Vote to change the system “.
Sergei Boyko, a well-known 37-year-old candidate who united the opposition, is proud to have managed to “disrupt the plans” for the United Russia and the Communist Party, which has already “divided the districts between them, in the hope of a simple campaign”.
From now on, the pro-Kremlin candidates in Novosibirsk must “actively campaign, meet voters every day, spend a lot of money,” he said.
The regional elections are also an opportunity for the opposition to once again test its “smart voting” tactics, which consist of demanding the vote of the candidate best suited to lose power. This tactic had already proved its worth last summer in Moscow, in local elections in which United Russia lost many seats, mainly in favor of the Communists.
It was created by Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin’s main opponent whose ghost hangs over the countryside. He became seriously ill in August while touring Siberia to support opposition candidates and investigate corruption among local elites. He is currently in hospital in Berlin. According to his German doctor, he was poisoned in Russia.
Dissemination of votes
Opposition supporters came under attack, pressure and threats throughout the campaign. While the power is suspected of having encouraged the spread of votes, to its advantage.
In addition to the United Russia and the traditional Communist Party and the LDPR (Nationalists), the vote also includes candidates from four new formations suspected of having been encouraged by the government to divide the electorate and give a pluralistic veneer to the votes.