Putin’s United Russia suffers election setbacks
The United Russia party of President Vladimir Putin has lost numerous seats in the high-profile Moscow’s city election, suggesting a voting strategy advocated by jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny (pictured) may have been successful.
Among those defeated was Andrey Metelsky, the leader of United Russia in Moscow.
Over 3,000 elections across Russia meant 16 regions elected governors, 12 legislatures were selected and hundreds of municipal governments were picked.
There were also considerable defeats for United Russia in the far east of the country. The results preempt a 2021 national parliamentary vote and the 2024 presidential election.
The barring of many opposition candidates sparked some of Russia’s largest protests in years over the summer.
United Russia won 25 of the Moscow Duma’s 45 seats, retaining its majority, which is unusual because it was not on the ballot paper.
The ruling party association had apparently been deemed too toxic for its candidates to run as anything other than independents.
But United Russia has still declared a majority on the Moscow council.
Several activists who were barred from the Moscow election on Sunday called on their supporters to back the “intelligent voting” strategy of Navalny, dealing United Russia its biggest setback in the capital.
Navalny asked voters in each constituency to back whichever candidate had the best chance of beating the United Russia representative, regardless of the party. “This is a fantastic result for ‘intelligent voting’,” Navalny said.
In 2014 Putin’s party won 28 seats along with 10 independent candidates it backed.
This time the Communist Party won 13 seats, up from five in 2014.
The opposition Yabloko Party won three seats and an allied independent candidate also won.
The Fair Russia party also won three seats,
Daria Besedina, a successful Yabloko candidate, tweeted: “We shouldn’t forget that these were not a real election, a lot of genuine candidates who would have won were not allowed to run. Moscow needs normal elections.”
Support for Putin fell sharply in 2018 after he approved an unpopular raising of the pension age. His losses in Moscow were the latest sign of the populist’s fading fortunes.
Ahead of the vote Navalny’s anti-corruption organisation conducted investigations into the United Russia leadership. The Moscow leader, Metelsky, was said to have a property portfolio that included three hotels in the Austrian Alps, worth more than €110 million. The defeated candidate denies any wrongdoing.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny after being attacked in Moscow in 2017. Picture credit: Wikimedia