Gubernatorial Election Genie Out of the Bottle

Source: Getty
Op-Ed The Moscow Times
Summary
In spite of the fact that the pace of political reform in Russian is slowing, the political elites in many Russian regions have already started preparations for the reinstatement of direct elections of governors and mayors.
Related Topics
Related Media and Tools
 

Even the most truncated of President Dmitry Medvedev's recent political reforms have begun to falter. Legislation loosening the procedure for registering political parties was the only one of three bills presented to the State Duma that has passed so far. Meanwhile, two bills on the direct election of governors have stalled between the first and second readings, while the Federation Council has proposed amendments to the bills that would effectively emasculate this legislation.

It is obvious that the Kremlin has decided to slow the pace of reform now that the presidential election is over and the protests have quieted down. This is especially important with regard to gubernatorial elections because the Kremlin wants to remove the weakest and most unpopular regional leaders and ensure its control over the regions prior to the start of elections scheduled for this fall.

Nikolay Petrov was the chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Society and Regions Program. Until 2006, he also worked at the Institute of Geography at the Russian Academy of Sciences, where he started to work in 1982.
Nikolay Petrov
Scholar-in-Residence
Society and Regions Program
Moscow Center
More from this author...
The fact that the Kremlin is still appointing new governors even after a bill calling for direct gubernatorial elections has been sent to the Duma suggests that it still does not understand that direct elections are not a concession to the opposition but a prerequisite for the survival of the political system.

The contrast between the Kremlin's words and deeds was most apparent in the Primorye region, where a new governor was installed on the eve of the March presidential election. Governor Sergei Darkin was replaced by Vladimir Miklushevsky, an outsider who was sent to the region from Moscow a year earlier to head a university. It is hard to imagine that an educator from Moscow will be able to exercise tight control over a region that is so heavily criminalized. It is even more unlikely that he would win in free elections if they were held now.

The authorities have promised to pass a law on gubernatorial elections by May while at the same time saying they might significantly delay implementation of the law until corresponding regional laws can be prepared. But it seems that the delay will be difficult to put into practice, just like the infamous "presidential filter."

Perm Governor Oleg Chirkunov is the only regional leader so far to announce that he would resign if the law on gubernatorial elections is passed. He also issued orders to prepare the regional version of the law as quickly as possible. The first gubernatorial elections — slated for the Novgorod and Perm regions — could set off a domino effect. Once the citizens of these regions elect their governors, the people of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Samara and other regions will demand the right to do the same.

In addition, the process of reinstating the direct election of mayors in cities where they had been eliminated has already begun. In particular, the election in Yaroslavl on Sunday showed that politically active Russians consider elections held anywhere in the country as their own elections.

The political elites in many regions have already started preparations for elections and nothing can stop them — not the rulers' desire to delay elections as long as possible, nor the long terms that incumbent governors were appointed to serve.

In the end, the reinstatement of direct gubernatorial elections will be a more rapid process than their elimination was in the 2000s.

This article originally appeared in The Moscow Times.

End of document
Source http://carnegie.ru/2012/04/03/gubernatorial-election-genie-out-of-bottle/a6mv

More from The Global Think Tank

In Fact

 

45%

of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.

30%

of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.

140

charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.

2.5–5

thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.

92%

of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.

$2.34

trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.

37%

of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.

72%

of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.

90%

of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.

13%

of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.

17

U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.

40%

of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.

120

million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.

60–70%

of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.

58%

of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.

67%

of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.

50%

of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.

18%

of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.

81%

of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.

32

million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3

Syrians

now needs urgent assistance.

370

political parties

contested India’s last national elections.

70%

of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.

70%

of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.

20%

of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.

58%

of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.

$536

billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.

$100

billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.

4700%

increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.

$11

billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2%

of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.

78

journalists

were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

Stay In The Know

Enter your email address in the field below to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
 
 
Carnegie Moscow Center
 
16/2 Tverskaya Moscow, 125009 Russia
Phone: +7 495 935-8904 Fax: +7 495 935-8906
Please note...

You are leaving the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy's website and entering another Carnegie global site.

请注意...

你将离开清华—卡内基中心网站,进入卡内基其他全球中心的网站。