2018 Russian presidential election as a fair

2018 Russian presidential election as a fair
Photo: RBC

The presidential election scheduled for March 18 should be held as a holiday - the Kremlin gave such order to the regions. The Presidential Administration expects that the festive atmosphere at polling stations will increase the turnout, sources told RBC.

The Kremlin obliged regions to held the presidential election scheduled on March 18 in a festive atmosphere, RBC quotes a source close to the leadership of one of the entities, and it was confirmed by two interlocutors close to the Presidential Administration. We are talking about the day of voting, when it is necessary to create a festive mood in the polling stations, the sources of RBC stressed. The federal center, they said, expects that turning the election into a holiday would help raise the turnout.

Regions did not have specific guidelines, what exactly to do on the sites, but the scheme is clear: "Culture, sports events, fairs should be held," one of the RBC interlocutors, close to the Presidential Administration, explains. A set of festive events is obvious - the performances of creative teams, the sale of food and goods, a source close to one of the regions adds.

The need for turning the election into a holiday and how to attract voters to the polling stations was also mentioned at a Kremlin seminar for vice-governors on domestic policy and deputy presidential envoys for domestic policy, which was held in the Moscow region from November 29 to December 2, RBC's interlocutor told. According to him, headliners gave examples of how to attract citizens to polling stations - to conduct polls on certain aspects of life in a particular locality on a poll day, attitude to school rules, etc. It was not about referendums as such, but rather about their similarity, when the authorities find out the opinion of citizens, but the results of the plebiscite do not have legal effect, a source close to the Kremlin explained to RBC. Legally binding referendum is not a priority of the federal center, he added.

There was also a proposal to organize rooms for children at polling stations to create additional conveniences for parents. As an example of the festive organization of the voting day, the participants of the seminar watched a photo of the polling station hung with balloons, the source said.

These examples of involving citizens in elections need not be taken up - the regions have the right to determine how they will attract voters to the polling stations, the source of RBC, close to the management of one of the regions, emphasized.

Kremlin task

At the Moscow region seminar, regions were given other ways of holding elections. Voting must pass cleanly and transparently, and the number one task is the legality of the elections, RBC quotes a representative of the Kremlin's internal political bloc. Participant of the seminar, the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, Sergey Kiriyenko, who oversees domestic policy, spoke to the audience about the importance of informing citizens about the campaign as a whole-the date of elections, the location of polling stations, the right of Russians to vote without absentee ballots at the place of actual location, etc. Officials were warned that they should not agitate for any of the candidates, in addition, Kiriyenko stressed that "all violations will be severely suppressed."

Elections, Kiriyenko said, should be "absolutely legitimate" so that no one has any reason to hold rallies or file lawsuits in court, RBC quotes two participants of the seminar. The campaign, according to the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, should go so "that the next day it will go without a hitch, no protests due to ‘carousels’ and other violations."

The topic of turnout was also raised at the seminar. From the words of representatives of the Kremlin's internal political bloc, it followed that it was important for the federal center that the turnout should be real; also, no internal documents related to elections should leak to the social network and the Internet, one of the participants of the RBC event explained. A year ago, at a seminar for vice-governors on domestic policy, Kiriyenko spoke of the victory of "the main candidate at a very high turnout of 70%" and with a result of 70%, RBC reported.

Participants of the seminar were also informed that during the campaign there would be three agitation waves using three different billiard lines, one of RBC's interlocutors said. The first wave will begin almost immediately after the Federation Council appoints elections (as expected, this will happen on December 15), and will last until January 15. The second agitation wave will last until February 15, the third - directly before the election. At the seminar representatives of the regions were asked to reserve areas for these billboards in advance.

Soviet experience

The transformation of the voting day into the holiday was practiced in Soviet times, said political analyst Andrey Kolyadin. "Fairs were organized on the sites, cafes were opened, music played," he lists. A good mood helps increase turnout, the format of the holiday creates a favorable environment, affects people's self-awareness, so that they "happily fulfill their civil duty," the expert sums up.

Regions traditionally practice some form of entertainment at polling stations, "but if this time the Kremlin has set the task, then holidays should be especially bright," political scientist Nikolay Mironov said. "These facilities are focused primarily on cities and towns where there is no entertainment and people in their poor and monotonous life are happy with any holiday," the expert said. Poor and monotonous life of about two-thirds of the country, so that the idea is "global" and focused on turnout, but, as experience shows, it would not give a serious increase, Mironov summed up.

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