“Why is this emergency?”

Several media outlets reported at once, citing sources in the Kremlin: this year, Russians may not be allowed to directly elect governors. And it is possible that, in general, all elections of heads of regions, regional and municipal deputies scheduled for September will be postponed for a year or two. “MK” asked experts to evaluate the feasibility of such a solution.

Photo: Gennady Cherkasov

Anonymous sources in the Kremlin or “close to the Kremlin” told reporters that the question of the fate of the single voting day in 2022 could be raised on April 27 during Vladimir Putin’s conversation with deputies, senators, heads of regions and regional parliaments – participants in the meeting of the Council of Legislators in St. Petersburg. The answer of the head of state, they say, depends on which option will be chosen: to replace the direct elections of governors by the people with indirect ones, only by deputies of the legislative assemblies of the subjects of the Russian Federation, or simply postpone the elections of governors for a year or two, and up to a bunch of regional parliaments and municipal deputies. & nbsp;

The arguments in favor of such decisions are as follows: the special operation, sanctions and the economic crisis caused by them, which will manifest itself more clearly just in time for the summer-autumn, create not quite normal conditions for the elections, besides, any the election campaign requires money and takes a lot of time from the authorities…

On September 11, 2022, heads of 15 regions are to be elected in Russia. As planned, due to the expiration of the term of office, – in 12 of them. In the Vladimir, Yaroslavl and Tambov regions, the elections will be extraordinary: there are now acting governors, because the former retired ahead of schedule last fall. In one of these 15 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, in Adygea, elections are still not direct, the head here is elected by deputies of the regional parliament.

Recall: in 2004, direct elections of governors in Russia were canceled altogether, but in 2012 they were allowed again, allowing the regions to decide on their own – allow the population to choose the head of the region, or entrust this matter to local deputies. Such an “indirect” the scheme is used so far in 9 out of 85 constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

In addition to the governors this year, it is planned to elect six regional parliaments, 11 municipal councils, dumas or assemblies in regional cities (including Yaroslavl, Tver, Pskov) . And more than 1500 municipal deputies in Moscow…

If it is quite realistic to replace the direct elections of governors with indirect ones (it is enough for the regional parliaments to adopt the relevant laws before the beginning of June), then to postpone “for later” all elections in the country legally will not be so easy and will require the adoption of federal laws. Now the law “On the Basic Guarantees of the Electoral Rights of Citizens”, which defines the general rules for holding elections for the whole country, for example, allows the extension or reduction of the term of office of a certain regional parliament “for no more than a year”; only for the sake of combining these elections with the elections of deputies of the State Duma. But elections to the State Duma should take place only in 2026…

The temporary cancellation of elections and, accordingly, the extension of the powers of elected authorities during a state of emergency or martial law, and only for the duration of these special regimes, are still allowed. But neither emergency nor martial law has been introduced in Russia, as is known.

Of course, if the decision to postpone all elections for a year or two is supported by the head of state, there is no doubt that our legislators will come up with some kind of cunning formula and formalize it legally in the coming weeks. But how appropriate is all this in the current situation? And how will it affect the fate of systemic parties (non-systemic opposition can be considered virtually destroyed)?

Political scientist Mikhail Vinogradov (Petersburg Politics Foundation) believes: for the authorities, “it would be preferable and more logical not to change anything – to demonstrate their own confidence. Moreover, “cancellation leaves a number of issues unresolved”– from internal legitimation in the eyes of their own elite groups and hardware competitors, to legal ways to release the social steam that has accumulated during the pandemic and continues to accumulate,” he told MK.

“I don’t think that there are public political structures that need such cancellation (elections. – «MK») would be beneficial: in essence, it means putting public politics on pause and lowering (and in some cases bringing down) the status of all players involved in the electoral process, leaving them with a predominantly decorative position and expanding the field of opportunities for executive power. This applies to both opposition and pro-government parties, – the expert believes.

Yevgeny Minchenko (International Institute of Political Expertise), when asked about the likelihood of canceling direct elections of governors or postponing all elections to a later date, answered as follows: “I can only say as a blonde from a well-known anecdote who was asked about the chance of meeting a dinosaur on the street: 50 to 50 “Either a meeting, or not.” Either they cancel it or they don't. Or they will cancel it pointwise.

As for direct elections of governors, the political scientist recalls, to cancel them, “there are all technical possibilities, federal legislation gives the regions the right to adopt this or that model. And then the question is for the regional legislators and what they will be hinted at from the federal center.

But he himself “doesn't make any sense in this.” does not see, Mr. Minchenko said in a conversation with MK: “There are high ratings for the president, a high level of support for a special military operation. On the contrary, it is necessary to hold elections now and show that everything is really going according to plan and that the current government has high support… Why this emergency, I honestly do not understand.


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