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The start of the election campaign – how political forces are preparing for the elections of the governor

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At a press briefing, Georgiy Poltavchenko sai he expected to win the September 14th elections in the first round. Dmitry Runkov found out who will challenge the acting governor and what are the parties’ plans for the voting.

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Yuriy Zinchuk, “Pulse of the city” host: “Naturally, the election campaign has kicked off. For now – unofficially. It will be official once the corresponding statement is published in a newspaper. But the starting shot has already been fired. This will be the first governor-electing process in quite a long time. Lets recall. 

In 2011, Poltavchenko replaced Matvienko upon the president’s decree. Valentina Matvienko, though, became the governor after an election back in 2003, when she beat Anna Markova in the 2nd round run-off on October 5th. That means that the city hasn’t had a governor’s election for more than a decade.

It is a historic event. Now lets look what the elections will be about. We have to keep municipal elections in mind too. How are the parties preparing for it and what slogans they are writing? Or, maybe, not writing yet, but only contemplating? And what is the electorate expecting? Watch our 1st report in the series “Searching for the truth. 14th September – elections countdown”

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “Starting from now, the election countdown for thousands of deputy hopefuls and candidates to take the governor’s seat has begun. The Spetember 14th elections will be held in exactly a 100 days from now. In the army such term usually means the beginning of a new life. It seems that the life of the whole of St. Petersburg will change over the next three and a half months – waiting a 100 days to the moment when all political appointments will be made”

Ordinary constituents are yet unaware of the coming big election battle. Candidates are still strengthening their own positions and are gathering intel on their rivals. Even “rumor mill” hasn’t begun working yet.

Inside the municipal administration, a wallpaper marking a Medics’ Day is being drawn – instead of contemplating political maneuvers. Starting a hassle three months before the election is deemed useless/

Vsevolod Belikov, head of municipal administration “Finlandskiy district”: “I’d be lying if is said we’re not worried at all. But we are not conducting any particular measures. If we have failed to do things in 5 years, then this would be unfixable. We will not fill postboxes with leaflets or put posters everywhere. We have no money for that and it makes no sense”

But the number of agitation leaflets dropped into postboxes this summer will increase hugely. There will be almost 1500 winners in the battle for municipal deputies’ jobs

60 parties will try to have their members win seats in the administration. It looks set to become the most vibrant campaign in the country’s history. Colored with yellow, grey and black political technologies. 

Vitaliy Milonov, deputy of St. Petersburg’s legislative council: “As for the municipal elections, it will be like in Zoshenko’s books – who’s spitting into whose plate”

The silence of the Mariinskiy palace is deceiving. Only a few days ago each fraction was promising to pull either a high card or a joker out of their sleeves at the elections. Almost straight after the announcement of the early governor’s elections, they moved from statements to whispered talks inside their offices. That makes a possibility of a successful political solitaire stronger, 

Boris Vishnevskiy, deputy of St. Petersburg’s legislative council: “There are debates, but that’s away from TV cameras, as you can understand. Negotiations are being held. We knew in advance that the elections will take place, that’s why we had worked out a stance”

According to the election law, the number of governor candidates will be strictly limited. Contenders for the city’s top job will have to pass a municipal filter and gather at least 10% of signatures in their favor from deputies. They will be supported by the acting municipal workers. 8 out of 10 of them now are members of the “Edinaya Rossiya” party. So the most difficult matter for the opposition is deciding whether they should storm the office in a united front or disperse and attack from different political flanks.

Vladimir Dmitriev, deputy of St. Petersburg’s legislative council: “A well-known man will represent us”

This well-known candidate from the communist party could be director Vladimir Bortko. He is not too keen though on moving from the State Duma to the Smolnyi, But if the party says so, he will obey 

Vladimir Bortko, State Duma deputy, director: “If the party says, I’ll go. But I don’t understand anything about utilities and am not too keen on trying to understand”

The “Yabloko” party is having doubts too. They are putting forward their leader Grigoriy Yavlinsky. However, he has been refusing to fight for the governor’s up until recently. Another federal politician and SPBGU professor Alexey Kudrin refused to participate even before the campaign was announced. 

Alexey Kudrin, former finance minister (2000-2011): “As far as I know, the governor already has plans. My plans lay elsewhere

So for now, the list of candidates is not even a short list – there are only 2 of them. Oksana Dmitrieva is planning to govern the city with a firm woman’s hand. She claims to be the single opposition candidate. Although, not a single party has confirmed a wish to implement a “one for all and all for one” principle. And it is also unclear about Dmitirieva’s candidature. The “Srpavedlivaya Rossiya” party could put forward either a member of the federal elite Oleg Nilov or even the former speaker of the Federations Council Sergey Mironov.

Oksana Dmitrieva, head of regional office of the “Spravedlivaya Rossiya” party: “I’ve been in St. Petersburg for many years and the residents know me well. Im planning to gain 51 percent of the votes in the 1st round”

Speculation aside, the main favorite to win the race in the very first round – judging by the polls – is its leading candidate. Georgiy Poltavchenko, who only 2 days ago was named “acting” governor. He expects real competition and – as if against his common restraint – looks quite determined 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, acting governor of St. Petersburg: “Im hoping to face strong candidates. And im expecting to win in the 1st round”

For the electorate it is no easier than for the candidates. The city has got used to living without governor’s elections – they have been gone for 11 years. While voting for municipal deputies, it is necessary not to get lost in the long list of names of hopefuls. So to speak, this summer the degree of political battle could hit a maximum. It is getting higher every day – which counts down the day when the city will choose its future for the next 5 years. 

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