Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Maybe there is an opposition in Russia

Small gains are big news in a regime where political opposition is suppressed.

Liberal coalition deals blow to Putin in Moscow council elections
A coalition of liberal opposition parties has won a series of victories in local council elections in central Moscow, beating candidates from Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party.

The United Democrats movement took 11 out of 12 council seats in the Tverskaya district, a wealthy neighbourhood adjacent to the Kremlin. It also secured 11 out 12 seats in the Gagarinsky district, where Putin cast his vote on Sunday. The opposition likewise upset the odds to triumph in a dozen other districts, the vast majority of them in the very heart of the Russian capital…

The opposition coalition’s breakthrough campaign was masterminded by Dmitry Gudkov, a former MP, and the Yabloko and Parnas opposition parties.

Among the coalition’s advisers was Vitali Shkliarov, a 41-year-old Soviet-born political consultant who worked on Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign last year…

The vote represents a rare electoral success for Russia’s liberal opposition, whose candidates are often barred from standing for public office. This time round, however, the Kremlin decided to relax its grip on election registration procedures, in a bid to hold what Moscow city officials hailed as “the most honest elections ever”…

Although local councillors have little political power, their support is vital for anyone who wants to stand at mayoral elections in Moscow…

Although the electoral victories in central Moscow were greeted with euphoria by opposition supporters, United Russia still managed to secure around 75% of district council seats across the city…

Turnout at Sunday’s elections was low, at around 15% – half the turnout at last year’s parliamentary polls. In other votes across Russia on Sunday, United Russia won every seat in 16 votes for regional governors…

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