A Russian pundit forecasts the results of forthcoming parlamentary elections. And Russian President Putin calls on the citizens to come out and vote (see video at the end of the article)
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
The author is president of the Centre for Political Technologies, an influential Russian think tank
There will be several types of voters in the September 18 Duma election, with various motivations for voting.
The first type is the consistent loyalist, the "diehard Putinists", who vote for United Russia because it’s Putin's party. PM Dmitry Medvedev's remarks and their repercussions do not interest them. The current economic situation has a very weak influence on their choice - even given its obvious deterioration they are guided by the principle of "as long as there is no war". These voters have always been loyal to Putin and they see a threat to stability in the rise of a successor.
These "firm Putinists" account for approximately one-fourth of all voters (according to figures from the Levada Centre, about the same number who advocated a fourth term for Putin during the "pre-Crimea" period). The loyalist voter is very disciplined, so a low turnout because of the "dacha" holiday should favor United Russia. These voters' ardor can only be dampened by poor mobilization based on total confidence in victory or a failure to identify the party with Putin.
Given the estimated number of "firm Putinists" United Russia is unlikely to fall below 40% of voters, even if the home stretch of the campaign is unfavorable. The result will most likely be higher, whether significantly or not.
The second type is the "vacillating voter". They support the president and do not rule out voting for United Russia (at the peak of the Crimea incident, they supported the party and some of them still do), but they would consider voting for other parties that are part of the "Crimea consensus”, around 25% of voters.
On the one hand, these are a reservoir of support for United Russia. On the other hand, they could turn to the opposition parties, especially those that support Putin's foreign and military policy. These voters could vote for Putin in the presidential election, but against United Russia in the parliamentary election, especially since under the mixed electoral system there is the possibility of "double" voting: in a single-seat district, voting for the candidate most able to secure more government funds or attract investors), while "voting with the heart" on the party lists, punishing "evil barons".
It’s not yet clear that voters in this group who do not support United Russia are "drawn" to any particular other party, but primarily "social" parties with populist slogans. These include A Just Russia, the LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia), and also the Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice. However, this last has no chance of gaining the required 5%. The "Pensioners" began their election campaign very poorly due to acute internal conflict, so the only thing working in their favor is the name (but that will not take them far).
It appears that other moderate parties, based on various types of mobilization, will also compete for the "vacillating'" votes. Motherland is gambling on patriotic mobilization (with the advantage of being listed first on the ballot), while the Party of Growth is relying on a diverse number of figures well known in various parts of Russia, (from Oxana Dmitriyeva in St Petersburg and Oleg Nikolayev in Sevastopol, to Irina Khakamada in Moscow).
The third group are firm supporters of parliamentary parties opposed to United Russia. As of January 2016, they accounted for 29% of potential voters (of these, 16% were for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, 8% for the LDPR and 5% for A Just Russia). Many of these voters - especially the Just Russia and LDPR electorates - support Putin not so much as a politician, but as a symbol of the effectiveness of the state. At the same time, hostility towards the bureaucracy makes it impossible for these voters to vote for United Russia.
During the summer the CPRF has stagnated (16 per cent in January, 15 per cent in August), while the LDPR and A Just Russia gained points from "vacillating voters". So a battle for the "silver medal" has broken out between the Communists and the LDPR, distinguishing this election from the previous one, in which the CPRF was virtually guaranteed second place. However, the CPRF electorate is traditionally more disciplined and ideologically motivated, increasing the Communist Party's chances of finishing second.
The fourth type of voter is the radical opposition supporter, whose numbers are hardest to determine. Hypothetical figures of 86 per cent to 14 per cent of all citizens have been given- which is the well-known ratio of Putin's popularity in 2014). However, the "anti-Putinists" include quite a few orthodox communists (disillusioned that he is not restoring the USSR) and also social outsiders who do not usually turn out for elections. Some of the radical liberal public also display clear absentee sentiments, considering elections to be illegitimate.
Under these conditions the real radical opposition electorate could amount to around 5-6 per cent of voters. If we take into account that two parties - Yabloko and Parnas [People's Freedom Party] - are fighting over this electorate, neither of them are likely to get in.
Prediction of election results (party/result):
United Russia: 45-50 per cent;
the CPRF: 18-20 per cent;
the LDPR: 15-17 per cent;
A Just Russia: 9-10 per cent;
Yabloko, Parnas, Communists of Russia, the Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice and the Party of Growth have a chance of overcoming the 3% barrier. And one party, under very favorable circumstances,could achieve 5% (at the moment, Yabloko has the greatest chance of this). The scenario of a four-party Duma is currently the most likely: there is still room for a fifth party, but it is extremely limited.
RI Сomment: In his characteristic manner of staying above political fray (compare Obama's intensely partisan comments against Trump), on the eve of the elections President Vladimir Putin has called on the people to come out and vote for whomever they like on Sunday, September 18:
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