30 Aug 2018 13:17

Upcoming gubernatorial election in Russia to be mostly uncompetitive - FoRGO

MOSCOW. Aug 30 (Interfax) - A competitive scenario will be an exception from the rule in the upcoming gubernatorial elections, the Foundation for Civil Society Development (FoRGO) said.

The reasons for that are the fact that the process participants understand that there is no point in artificially stimulating competition and the low effectiveness of opposition campaigns, FoRGO said.

"Competition in gubernatorial elections is often not popular with voters. Therefore, competitive scenarios are destined to be exceptions from the rule, predetermined, for example, by unresolved intraregional conflicts, intrigues against specific governors, and headquarters' mistakes," FoRGO said in its report on the upcoming elections.

"A lot of experience of 'early diagnostics' of such threats has been accumulated. Besides, it has become clear that artificial stimulation of competition is pointless and even destructive. Therefore, there were no exceptions last year and there are nonce this year," the authors of the study said.

According to FoRGO experts, changes in the attitude of regional elites to election campaigns also have a certain influence. "Regional elites and the federal business, which were actively involved in election campaigns in the 1990s and in the early 2000s, which provided candidates, invested in them, have long reduced their ambitions and lost their subjectness. Besides, the value of governorship to all these groups has sharply declined," the report said.

"Twenty years ago, 'native' heads of regions were useful, and sometimes just necessary because property was actively divided then. But the divisions are long over and the powers and capabilities of governors have decreased. Now they are high-status officials included in the executive vertical 'pressured' from all sides by other verticals, party, law enforcement, etc.," FoRGO experts said.

Another factor affective competition is the low level of efficiency of opposition activities to promote its personnel, the report said.

"Systemic opposition parties, let alone non-system opposition, not only do not have administrative resources (and essentially, that is why they are in opposition), but also personnel capable of convincing regional elites and electorates to prefer specific alternatives and conduct effecting campaigns," FoRGO said.

FoRGO experts also came to the conclusion that "the supremacy of candidates from the authorities is due not only and not so much to their administrative resources, but also the authority of Vladimir Putin." "Appointing acting heads, he essentially nominates them for elections, subsequent decisions made by parties (not only United Russia candidates are appointed) are formal. The situation with the heads who are re-elected is not very different; their very nomination to new terms is deemed endorsed by the president by default," the study said.