Russians not tuned in to primary politics

United Russia did its best to struggle with the apathy of potential voters (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Danichev)
The leadership of United Russia is certain that primaries are one of the best methods to help the party to combat “public apathy and indifference.”

Sergey Neverov, the acting secretary of the general council’s presidium of the party, believes primaries have become “the main political event of the summer.”

However, the ruling party’s preliminary elections are unknown to the majority of Russian voters, although United Russia hopes their primaries will combat public apathy and indifference.

And judging from the most recent data, United Russia and the Popular Front, both led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, may have an uphill battle ahead of them if the latest opinion poll conducted by VTsIOM, a national public studies center, is anything to go by.

According to the survey, 93% of respondents do not even understand the concept of “primaries.” Only 3% of those polled understand that these are a party’s internal elections to select the best candidates. More people – 17% – know that the ruling party has been holding primaries as the December parliamentary elections draw closer. About 80 percent of respondents, though, had not heard that United Russia is trying to introduce this novelty into Russian politics.

The ruling party and the Popular Front’s primaries began in the end of July so that it could include candidates from the party’s list of 600 people in elections to the State Duma. And while the mass media is covering this process, poll results show that voters still have to get used to the new political terms and practices.

The internal “dynamic voting” has been gauging people’s trust towards many candidates from the party and the front, the Neverov told reporters on Wednesday. In term of the number of people participating in the primaries, this preliminary voting has exceeded expectations, he continued.

Although July and August are traditionally a calm period when it comes to political activity, this year United Russia did its best to struggle with the apathy of potential voters, having managed to attract more than 220,000 people who took part in selecting candidates, Neverov said. “These are the people who are not indifferent to what is going on in the country,” he said.

More than 900 meetings with potential voters have already been held. Primaries in most regions are set to end by August 25. Also, as a result of the fact that members of the Popular Front can be included on United Russia’s final roster of candidates without being actual party members, 220 people who are not United Russia members have already entered the top ten lists of candidates on regional tickets across the country.