Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Grassroots opposition?

With the presidential election out of the way, Russian politics turns to local races. Is this where real opposition to Putin's United Russia will arise?

Mayor’s race in Russia an opportunity for the opposition
A municipal election in Yaroslavl, a producer of tires, beer and electric motors, wouldn’t normally attract much attention. But a crack has emerged in the Putin-led system, in the form of a crusading anti-graft candidate who rode the winter-long wave of national political protest to become the front-runner here.

“Return the city to the people” is Yevgeny Urlashov’s campaign slogan, and it is resonating not only throughout Yaroslavl, a city of 600,000, but to Moscow and beyond. He’s talking about potholes — but also about corruption and a culture of official arrogance.

The success of Russia’s political system is based on its ability to keep a strong opposition from emerging, barring candidates where necessary and blocking nascent parties. The mayoral race in Yaroslavl, on the Volga River 160 miles northeast of Moscow, will be an early — and potent — test of an effort by Russia’s opposition to turn its attention to local politics…

“A lot depends on what conclusions Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] drew from the events of the past few months,” said Alexander Sokolov, an analyst at a nonprofit here called the Center for Social Partnership — underscoring the reality that ultimately no politics in Russia is local. Putin will set the tone — accommodate or crack down — and everyone under him will hop to it.

“Russian democracy is still in the Ice Age,” Urlashov said, “and the mastodons are still around.”

The mayoral elections here and in several other cities are a first step. City council elections are upcoming, and most regions will probably be electing governors in the fall. Members of regional legislatures here and elsewhere will be chosen a year from now. Even as Putin settles in for his six-year presidential term, a long political season stretches ahead…

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1 Comments:

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Anti-corruption crusader wins Russian mayoral election in victory for opposition

"An anti-corruption crusader has won a landslide victory in a mayoral election in a major Russian city, dealing a painful blow to the main Kremlin party and energizing the beleaguered opposition.

"Yevgeny Urlashov won 70 percent of the vote in Yaroslavl, in western Russia, easily defeating the acting mayor, who was the candidate of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

"Urlashov’s victory, confirmed Monday, reflects growing public irritation with official corruption and social inequality. And it gives new hope to Russia’s opposition… "

 

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