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Cablegate: Regional Election Results: United Russia Wins As

VZCZCXRO5877
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1413/01 2841452
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111452Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3743
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 011413

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/RUS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM PINR RS
SUBJECT: REGIONAL ELECTION RESULTS: UNITED RUSSIA WINS AS
EXPECTED

REF: A. MOSCOW 11172
B. VLADIVOSTOK 00133

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) As expected, the Kremlin's United Russia received a
plurality or majority of votes cast in the elections for nine
regional legislatures on October 8. Other key findings:

-- the experiment with managed, two-party democracy seems to
have succeeded from the perspective of the Presidential
Administration and will probably be repeated in the March
2007 elections;

-- the center-regions vertical of power still works;

-- western-oriented, democratic parties will likely have to
merge and "re-brand" themselves if they want to remain in the
political landscape;

-- slightly lower-then-expected turnout (31-50 percent) made
pensioners key players in the elections. Their votes went to
the parties of power, the Communist Party, and the Party of
Pensioners;

-- United Russia might face a stronger challenge from its
Kremlin opponent once the Party of Life, the Party of
Pensioners, and Rodina merge October 28. The Communists
remain a limited but significant presence;

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-- United Russia fared better in rural areas than it did in
urban areas. Almost all opposition seats were won in urban
areas.

-- as expected, election irregularities were alleged by party
leaders and the press. End summary.

--------------------------------------
PARTY REACTIONS - CLAIMS OF VICTORY...
--------------------------------------

2. (U) The ruling United Russia (YR) party claimed victory in
all nine regional elections. It received an absolute
majority of votes cast in three and a plurality in the
remaining six contests. The General Secretary of the YR
General Council, Vyacheslav Volodin, in a post-election press
interview was triumphant, describing the elections as an
overwhelming demonstration of support for YR. Volodin
dismissed assertions that the Party of Life (RPL) had emerged
from the elections as the main opposition to YR, noting that
the Communist Party (KPRF) had bested the RPL in six of the
nine elections. (Note: RPL was disqualified from the ballot
in two of those six elections. The fact that YR felt the
need to downplay RPL's performance is in itself telling.)

3. (SBU) Lipetsk RPL representatives rejoiced in their
results (Ref A). Although final results are not yet in, RPL
is assured of at least two seats and possibly as many as four
seats in the new Council. More unexpectedly, the Party of
Pensioners (RPP) gathered almost as many votes as the RPL.
Although better than expected, the RPP representative was
disappointed and claimed that, "had the election been
honest," his party would have received 15 percent of the
vote. Whatever the case, the RPP and RPL results bode well
for the RPP-RPL-Rodina alliance that is to be formalized on
October 28. (NOTE: Post will be interested to see how these
parties actually work together. Their combined expected
eight seats should give them at least a voice in local
affairs. Prior to the election, they had both lobbied for
directing more resources to those in need.)

----------------------
...WHILE SOME CRY FOUL
----------------------

4. (SBU) Some party leaders complained of foul play and
election violations. Sergey Mironov, head of the RPL,
alleged there had been election law violations in
Yekaterinburg and that the head of the Sverdlosk region
electoral commission was to blame. Mironov cited the
distribution of flyers warning voters not to vote for the
three merging parties (RPL, RPP, Rodina) because they would
soon cease to exist. KPRF head Gennadiy Zyuganov complained
that Mironov himself had violated campaign laws by having a
long interview published in a Lipetsk newspaper after the
election canvassing deadline. Zyuganov also claimed that

MOSCOW 00011413 002 OF 004


ballot boxes in the countryside had been stuffed for YR.

5. (SBU) In Tuva, RPL election observers cited obstacles and
harassment that nearly prevented them from monitoring the
elections. The observers claimed that first their plane was
denied landing at the airport in Tuva, and then the bus that
they had chartered in a neighboring region was stopped by the
authorities twice in the early morning of October 8.
According to press reports, RPL has submitted a formal
request for an investigation. Tuva is RPL's strongest
region; it took 35 percent of the vote to United Russia's 49
percent.

---------------------------------
KEY CONCLUSIONS FROM THE ELECTION
---------------------------------

6. (SBU) Moscow observers of the regional elections
highlighted the following moments of interest in the October
8 contests:

-- the LDPR's poorer-than-expected performance was traceable
to the fact that Vladimir Zhirinovskiy's volatile personality
is wearing thin with voters. Zhirinvoskiy himself, in the
estimation of Moscow observers, campaigned less energetically
in the nine regions than he has in the past. "Zhirinovskiy
is getting old," said one Embassy contact; he doesn't have
the drive he once had." (LDPR's share of the voted declined
from 12.8 percent in 2003 to 6.2 percent on October 8;

-- the Tuva results are unprecedented for such a
traditionally "administratively-controlled" region. The
pattern in the past has been for the Republic's
administration to ensure the overwhelming victory of one,
Kremlin-controlled party. This time around, YR and RPL
together garnered 80 percent of the votes, with a significant
minority of that number (32.5 percent) going to the Moscow's
number two official party;

-- "ideological" parties generally did poorly on October 8.
The "democratic" parties were not factors, while support for
Rodina and LDPR sagged. Some observers attributed the slump
to cynicism or apathy on behalf of the more passionate part
of the electorate. Other factors cited: Zhirinovskiy's loss
of luster; and, among "informed" voters, an awareness that
Rodina Chairman Rogozin is not longer in the Kremlin's favor;

-- voter participation was slightly lower than expected.
There was a general "north-south" correlation, with more
northern, less administratively controlled regions seeing
lower turnout and traditionally more-controlled regions
getting more voters to the polls;

-- there is an urban-rural divide in the electorate. YR
polled better in rural areas, other parties fared better in
cities. Voter turnout was substantially higher in rural
areas. For example, in the Lipetsk Oblast, voter turnout was
more than 70 percent in rural areas, and under 30 percent in
the cities. Only one of the five non-YR winners was elected
outside of the city of Lipetsk.

-- it was a "pensioners" election. The low turnout meant
that the votes of pensioners who, it is estimated, are three
times more likely to vote than Russians from other age
cohorts, were decisive. High rates of pensioner
participation translated into strong showings for the KPRF,
the Russian Party of Pensioners, and the parties of power;

-- the regions still dance to Moscow's tune. YR and RPL
--read Moscow-- wanted to win 50 percent of the vote and they
came close in every region except Astrakhan.

-- political observers argue that the experiment with
controlled, two-party democracy was a success from the
perspective of the Presidential Administration and will be
continued, after the October 28 Rodina-RPL-RPP merger, into
the March 11 elections to be held in 17 regions;

-- if western-oriented democratic parties are to remain
present in the political landscape, they will likely have to
merge and "re-brand" themselves. In Astrakhan, the Republic
Party -- supported by Yabloko and SPS -- garnered only 1.1
percent of the vote, far below the 7 percent they had hoped
for. They competed nowhere else.

-------------------------
DETAILED ELECTION RESULTS
-------------------------

MOSCOW 00011413 003 OF 004

7. (U) Below are the election results as reported by the
Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation,
supplemented by press reports. Distribution of seats in the
legislature is given where available. Seats in the
legislatures are distributed through a combination of party
list and single-mandate seats. Final official tallies and
seat allocations will be reported on October 14.

---------
Astrakhan Voter turnout: 43 percent
---------
Percent Seats
United Russia 39.7 n/a
Party of Life 0.0 n/a
Pensioners 9.9 n/a
Rodina 16.5 n/a
Communists 13.9 n/a
LDPR 7.1 n/a
Against All 6.1 n/a

----------
Chuvashiya Voter turnout: 42 percent
----------
Percent Seats
United Russia 53.9 n/a
Party of Life 0.0 0
Pensioners 0.0 0
Rodina 6.5 0
Communists 20.3 n/a
LDPR 9.3 n/a
Against All 4.4 -

-------------------------
Jewish Autonomous Republic Voter turnout: not reported
-------------------------
Percent Seats
United Russia 55.3 n/a
Party of Life 4.6 0
Pensioners 9.9 n/a
Rodina 4.5 0
Communists 18.5 n/a
LDPR 4.5 0
Against All (not on ballot)

-------
Karelia Voter turnout: 31 percent
-------
Percent Seats
United Russia 41.1 n/a
Party of Life 17.1 n/a
Pensioners 12.7 n/a
Rodina 0.0 0
Communists 13.5 n/a
LDPR 9.4 n/a
Against All (not on ballot)

-------
Lipetsk Voter turnout: 44 percent
-------
Percent Seats
United Russia 51.8 41
Party of Life 12.0 4
Pensioners 11.4 4
Rodina 0.0 0
Communists 10.9 4
LDPR 4.4 0
Patriots 1
Independent 2
Against All 5.0 -

--------
Novgorod Voter turnout: 31 percent
--------
Percent Seats
United Russia 44.7 n/a
Party of Life 5.8 0
Pensioners 0.0 0
Rodina 3.4 0
Communists 15.0 n/a
LDPR 7.2 n/a
Against All 4.7 -

--------
Primorye (see also Ref B) Voter turnout: 39 percent
--------
Percent Seats
United Russia 48.3 32

MOSCOW 00011413 004 OF 004


Party of Life 4.6 0
Pensioners 9.1 2
Rodina 2.4 0
Communists 12.2 3
LDPR 6.1 0
Freedom 8.7 3
Against All (not on ballot)

----------
Sverdlovsk -- Voter turnout: 28 percent
----------
Percent Seats
United Russia 40.5 15
Party of Life 4.6 2
Pensioners 9.9 4
Rodina 4.5 0
Communists 18.5 3
LDPR 4.5 0
Against All (not on ballot)

----
Tuva Voter turnout: 50 percent
----
Percent Seats
United Russia 46.3 n/a
Party of Life 32.5 n/a
Pensioners 0.0 0
Rodina 2.3 0
Communists 5.4 0
LDPR 3.6 0
Patriots 3.6 0
Against All (not on ballot)
RUSSELL

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