Russia has held a pan-regional voting day on September 11 with 15 Russian regions electing governors, six regions electing legislative assemblies and 12 regional capitals electing new city councils, as well as dozens of lower-level campaigns. The result has been one of the best performances for the ruling pro-Kremlin United Russia Party in its history.
As analysed by Andras Toth-Czifra for bne IntelliNews, for the Kremlin the main purpose of the regional vote is, as always, ensuring that the grip of United Russia remains strong on regional and municipal assemblies.
As the invasion of Ukraine unfolded, unconfirmed reports claimed that cancelling direct elections of the governors was on the agenda, which was accompanied by a reshuffle of heads of regions and appointment of inside-grown loyalists. But apparently competitive-looking regional and local elections remained important for the Kremlin as it decided to let the voting day be held undisturbed, which paid off.
Analysts and think-tanks surveyed by Kommersant daily believe that the ongoing Russian military invasion of Ukraine has overshadowed local political agendas, with the regional voting transforming into a confidence vote for Vladimir Putin and the United Russia in general.
Six of the twelve United Russia candidates gained more than 80% of the votes in gubernatorial elections: Alexei Tsydenov (Buryatia, 86.2%), Maksim Yegorov (Tambov region, 85%), Vladimir Mazur (Tomsk region, 84.9%), Pavel Malkov (Ryazan region, 84.6%), Vladimir Avdeev (Vladimir region, 83.7%) and Anton Alikhanov (Kaliningrad region, 80.2%).
Another two formally self-nominated candidates, Yuri Zaitsev (Marii El, 82.4%) and Mikhail Evraev (Yaroslavl region, 82.3%), were supported by United Russia. Three other United Russia candidates gained over 70% of the vote: Andrei Nikitin (Novgorod Oblast, 77%), Roman Busargin (Saratov Oblast, 72.3%) and Alexander Sokolov (Kirov Oblast, 71.9%), while the remaining candidates were still voted in by passing a 60% threshold: Artur Parfenchikov (Karelia, 69.2%), Yevgeny Kuyvashev (Sverdlovsk Oblast, 65.8%) and Alexander Brechalov (Udmurtia, 64.4%).
In the regional legislative elections, the United Russia Party increased its result in North Ossetia (67.9%, +8.7 percentage points over 2017), Penza region (74.9%, +5.9 pp) and Sakhalin (47.2%, +2.6 pp). In Krasnodar Krai, the percentage of its support remained unchanged at 70.8%; in Saratov Oblast it declined by 6.9pp to 59.9%; and in Udmurtia, it was down by 12% pp to 51.1%.
United Russia improved its results in most of the regions and in some cities, such as Tver and Nizhny Tagil, has even succeeded in forming single-party city councils.
In Moscow, where municipal elections were held in 125 districts, all but one district voted for non-systemic opposition candidates, according to preliminary results reported by Kommersant and RBC business portal. The ruling United Russia won 1,160 out of 1,417 seats (81.86%) in the city council, followed by the pro-government My Neighbourhood association established by the mayor Sergei Sobyanin with 134 seats (9.46%).