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Municipalities: In Moscow, the first results suggest a serious setback for the Kremlin


Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for voting for the best-placed candidates against the representatives of power. They would have won in 20 of the 45 constituencies.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny votes in Moscow on September 8th. VASILY MAXIMOV / AFP

Local, the result sends a national shock wave. In Moscow, after a summer of anti-Kremlin protests, the government would have lost nearly half of the municipal assembly. After counting almost all the ballot papers, the candidates supported by the authorities lost in 20 of the 45 constituencies of the capital. Communists, nationalists, liberals or independents, the winners come from very different political horizons. But all had the support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny whose "smart voting" strategy seems to have worked.

For this election of the Moscow Duma, the candidates of the liberal opposition, with one exception, had been excluded by the electoral commission because of alleged offenses in the collection of signatures. A rejection that has caused demonstrations almost every weekend in Moscow since mid-July. With the support of the street, Alexei Navalny called not to boycott the vote but to elect any candidate who, not associated with the authorities, seemed best placed to beat the representative of power.

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The scale of the success of this "intelligent vote", the unprecedented electoral strategy of the opposition to shake up the Kremlin, still depends on the counting and processing of the results that continued throughout the night. Last-minute manipulations can not be ruled out. But since the protests of 2011-2012 after the fraud in parliamentary elections, the vote in the offices and the work of the election commissions are very controlled. And elections, on election day, are more honest than in the past.

Increasing unpopularity of power

The participation rate has been low, around 20%, and the final results will be known only on Monday. If the victory of at least twenty of the non-Kremlin-supported candidates is confirmed, it would be the failure of the electoral strategy devised by the government to counter its growing unpopularity. While previous local elections elsewhere in the country had been marked by the retreat or even defeat of candidates from United Russia, the all-powerful Kremlin party had preferred, this time, in the capital, not to present its own candidates. He sent representatives from the system ... but not showing it too much.

Among the most resounding failures, one remains to be confirmed: in the 45th constituency of Moscow, the defeat of Valeria Kassamara, vice-rector of the University of Economics (HSE) which, elite university, was one of the hotbeds of protest this summer. "Independent" , without any official link with the Kremlin party, she presented herself as a candidate close to the mayor, thus of power. She benefited from administrative, financial and advertising largesse for her campaign. His portrait had become ubiquitous in the streets of Moscow in recent weeks.

That did not prevent, according to the first results, the victory of his opponent Magomet Yandiev who led a campaign without such means and, thanks to the support of Alexei Navalny's "intelligent vote", would have finally won. An important victory for the leader of the opposition: his ally Ilia Iachine had seen his candidacy rejected in this constituency by the electoral commission and, continued for his calls to demonstrate, he spent most of the month of August in prison.

Against a background of social discontent already growing in the country, the strong liberal community of Moscow, more politicized than elsewhere, has thus inflicted a serious setback on the Kremlin. But signals also come from elsewhere in Russia where, in total, some 5,000 local elections in the 85 regions of the country were held Sunday (governors, mayors, assemblies ...).

Read also End of a day of local elections in Russia, test for Putin's support

In the Khabarovsk region of the Far East, the Kremlin party has nominated its own candidates but only won two of the 36 seats in the regional assembly. He was defeated by the Communists and Nationalists of the LDPR. Both of them are usually loyal to the Kremlin on a national level, but both parties have more and more regional aspirations for independence. They profit from the discontent in the population due to the decline in purchasing power, the unpopular raising of the retirement age and other social problems in a stagnant economy. In Novosibirsk, the third largest city in the country, the communist mayor close to the authorities has reportedly won. But the representative of Alexei Navalny, would have collected about 20% of the votes.

Conversely, far from the contestation in Moscow, the elections of the governors in regions comfort the Kremlin. Provisional results in Sakhalin and Transbaikalia, in the east of the country, have given a large lead for power candidates. And St. Petersburg would have reelected with a clear majority his governor Alexander Beglov, yet very unpopular. But the magnitude of this victory in the former imperial capital has aroused suspicions. During the day, while the overall participation rate was low, it increased abnormally in some offices.

Nicolas Ruisseau (Moscow, correspondence)

Source: lemonde

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