Opposition party led by former PM Kasyanov loses regional polls

Co-chairman of RPR-PARNAS Mikhail Kasyanov. © Alexandr Kryazhev
The liberal opposition party PARNAS, headed by former Russian PM Mikhail Kasyanov and backed by popular anti-corruption activist Aleksey Navalny, has failed to get a seat in the Kostroma regional legislature, losing to the four parliamentary parties.

The head of the Party of People’s Freedom’s election headquarters, Leonid Volkov, told reporters after the Sunday voting was complete that according to exit polls his comrades managed to secure only about 2.6 percent of votes. The preliminary data released by the regional elections commission suggested that less than two percent of voters threw their support behind PARNAS.

The minimal threshold required to get a seat in the Kostroma regional legislature is 5 percent.

TASS quoted regional elections commission as saying that the new legislature will be comprised of four parliamentary parties – the centrist conservative United Russia, leftist Fair Russia party, populist nationalists LDPR and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

Kostroma Region was the only member of the Russian Federation in which the Party of People’s Freedom had managed to enter the legislative polls, submitting enough valid signatures of supporters.

MP Andrey Isayev (United Russia) said in comments to TASS that in his opinion the success of parliamentary parties in regional elections could be explained by the fact that despite representing various parts of the political spectrum they all remained on the “patriotic” positions and defended the Russian statehood.

The participation of the PARNAS party in the elections was interesting because they claim that they are supported by a significant part of the society with liberal inclinations. But they completely failed at the elections. In my view this is an indicator of a complete lack of support,” Isayev said.

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The head of the State Duma Committee for Constitutional Law, Vladimir Pligin (United Russia), said in press comments that the Sunday polls demonstrated that the need for opposition in the Russian political system was completely satisfied by parliamentary parties.

It is very important that the political structure of the society is based on the parliamentary parties. This is a very particular preference of the Russian citizens tied with the gradual development of the Russian Federation,” TASS quoted the lawmaker as saying. “I think it is important that the society is consolidating around the Russian president,” he added.

VTSIOM public opinion center chief Valery Fyodorov also noted that while the Russian community clearly demonstrated the request for political opposition, none of the new parties had managed to win the voters’ sympathies.

During the campaign PARNAS representatives said they had experienced pressure from the authorities and reported alleged violations of electoral rules by their competitors. The party also said it had deployed 545 monitors to 400 Kostroma polling stations and these people had registered about 480 various violations during voting. PARNAS headquarters said that it had reviewed all reports and found 30 violations serious enough to report to the regional electoral commission.