Victory for liberal Karelia
The Yabloko party party makes it into the regional parliament as it wins 9,9 percent of the votes in Sunday’s elections. In addition to two mandates from the party list, the party also wins one of the single-mandate constituencies.
The latter mandate comes with a smallest-possible margin. The seat was won by Andrey Rogalevich with 28,37 percent of the votes ahead of United Russia’s Nina Ratnikova and her 28,35 percent. Only two single votes separate the two candidates, 7x7-journal reports.
Although out-numbered by the United Russia, Yabloko might with its three seats be become a real opposition force in the regional assembly.
United Russia won 33,2 percent in the party votes, as well as 17 of the 18 single-mandate constituencies. That gives it a total of 23 seats in the regional parliament.
The Liberal Democrats gets four seats, the Communist Party - three, and the A Just Russia - also three.
With the result, Karelia is the Russian region with the lowest support for United Russia. In the State Duma election, which was held at the same time as the regional vote, the party got 37,3 percent of the votes, 7x7-journal informs.
The liberal Yabloko party has long had a high standing in Karelia. In 2013, regional capital Petrozavodsk with convincing margins catapulted party candidate Galina Shirshina to the post as city mayor.
Shirshina became one of few city mayors in Russia with a political stance in clear contrast with the line of the Kremlin. The 32-year old mayor soon started an overhaul of local city management, which made her highly unpopular among political opponents, among them the United Russia Party and regional Governor Aleksandr Khudilainen.
It all ended up with her dismissal in late fall 2015.
Since then, Shirshina has been a front figure in the party’s bid to capture seats in the September 18th regional elections.
«I have a very strong list, a very strong team», Shirshina underlined in a comment. «Yabloko is the only competitor of the United Russia, and consequently the only threat against Governor Aleksandr Khudilainen», she maintained.
In addition to the State Duma and regional parliament elections, there were also Petrozavodsk city council elections in Karelia on 18th September. Those elections however were held without the participation of Yabloko.
In late August, a local court in Petrozavodsk ruled that the party will not be allowed to run in the local elections. The ruling comes after the local Rodina Party filed a suit against Yabloko arguing that it had violated election registration procedures.
According to Galina Shirshina, the court ruling shows how the regional government is treating the political opposition.
«This is not the court, this is the governor», Shirshina said to 7x7-journal. «He is using his administrative resources to fight the opposition».