"Revenge of the tired people": political scientists praised the election of a cleaning lady as the head of the settlement

"Revenge of the tired people": political scientists praised the election of a cleaning lady as the head of the settlement

29 September , 10:39PoliticsPhoto: vk.com
The Povalikha settlement-half-thousand became famous throughout the country thanks to the Single Voting Day-2020. The elections were won by a cleaning lady from the local administration.

The girl admitted that she was asked to be a spoiler. Novye Izvestia asked political scientists and political experts to comment on the accidental victory won by Marina Udgodskaya.

Julia Suntsova

Today, Marina Udgodskaya, who accidentally became the head of the settlement, is being assigned curators from the regional government and the regional branch of the Russian Party of Pensioners for Social Justice, which nominated her.

A 35-year-old cleaning lady from the local administration was the only rival of the incumbent head of the settlement, Nikolay Loktev, in the elections on Single Election Day 2020.

She was supported by 84 out of 130 people who came to the site, thus she received the support of 62% of voters. But the victory did not please Udgodskaya. The newly minted head admitted that she ran as a figurehead: she just wanted to help the boss so that the elections did not look uncontested. I didn’t run an election campaign, I didn’t think that my fellow villagers would vote for it. The girl told reporters that “she has no idea what the duties will include”, “I have never had a business with documents”, how many residents and villages in the settlement, she does not know. Until she took office, the head would be cleaning the floors, but there she planned to refuse the post, because she was “internally not ready”. A few days later, however, the girl changed her mind to abdicate.

The victory of the spoiler candidate in the Povalikha rural settlement is a classic story about protest voting, says Alexander Kynev, a political scientist and specialist in regional political processes in Russia and the CIS countries.

"In modern Russia there are already many such examples. In the Kursk region, technical candidates won twice. Voters vote against the basic candidates for evil, if only the one who is imposed on them does not pass. People vote in protest when there is a request for an update, but the authorities do not hear it and are trying to plug the holes with whatever they have to. But people will always find a way to get around the artificial structures they offer", - he is sure.

You should not make global conclusions when an electoral surprise occurs in a village where a little more than a hundred people voted, and it would be wrong to project a microscopic local outbreak across the whole country, comments the politician, leader of the Just Russia faction in the Council of Deputies of the city district Dolgoprudny Boris Nadezhdin...

"Let's not forget that in the conventional Povalikha rural settlement, all voters know each other personally, in person, and the head who was eager for re-election is their neighbor in the literal sense of the word. In small settlements, understanding the motives of people, you can stumble upon some absolutely personal motives. Whatever you want, maybe - the current head offended some woman, and 130 people (out of 500 living in the village) came to the site to take revenge on him. To be honest, I do not understand why elections should be held in settlements with such a large number of people - spending budgets, organizing all these complex electoral processes. Go to the square and ask: "Petrovich, will you be the head?" Immediately and vote by show of hands. We, in our dacha partnership with the same number of people, choose the headman in this way", - the politician says.

A similar election result with a spoiler candidate was last year in Ust-Ilimsk, Irkutsk Oblast: in a small town, a young housewife was chosen as opposed to a candidate from the authorities. But here, in contrast to the Povalikhinsky rural settlement, tens of thousands of voters have already voted, you cannot go around all of them in apartments. In cities with a population of 100 thousand or more, one can start talking about full-fledged political processes. The number is already enough for several parties, the agenda is already being distributed among political forces, candidates are already theoretically capable of competing with each other. In settlements the size of Povalikhinskoye, all this for the most part has to be imitated, Nadezhdin is sure.

The spoiler's victory in the Kostroma region is a revenge of tired people who want to see new faces, dream of changes, but they are not given all this, says a lawyer, a member of the Scientific and Expert Council at the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, co-chairman of the movement in defense of the rights of voters Golos Grigory Melkonyants.

"In the countryside, all political processes are as transparent as possible, because everything is in plain sight. People see with their own eyes who is the henchman of the authorities, and which is the alternative. In the Povalikha rural settlement, people, having looked through the list, simply voted, as they believed, not for the pro-government candidate, as a result Marina Udgodskaya won more votes. In our country, such victories are not isolated, they started talking about the case with the Kostroma region simply because of the vivid statements from the newly elected head: she admitted that she was a backup for another candidate, complained that now she does not know how to deal with it", - the expert says.

"The request for renewal of power today has been formed not only at the level of local government, but also in the regions - for training personnel for heads and deputies of legislative assemblies. The difference is that the powers of local leaders are quite specific. It's one thing when you pass laws at the regional or State Duma level, where there are specialized offices that help solve technical issues. It is a completely different matter when at the level of villages, townships, small towns you are with minimal resources, one on one you are left with the problems that these settlements face. Even competent personnel are not always enough to deal with interaction with the region, budget issues, reporting, and work out promising areas. Any person, even the most senior specialist, racks his brains when going to work, how to do it all", - explains Melkonyants.

"Fatigue from power among voters is due to the fact that those figures who are in it, in the opinion of citizens, do not solve the problems of the people, but are only busy filling their pockets. In their native villages, they see that the heads live well, and their own standard of living is not changing steadily: there are no more jobs, no roads are being built, and the utilities are not improving. People vote in protest to say - we are not for all this. Different motivations for people choosing spoiler candidates. They are not happy, but they believe in the alternative, and here the main thing is that the citizens do not become disappointed.

If people are offered only such a kind of change of power, and people will not see a real improvement in their lives after such a vote, then such a state-forming instrument as elections will cease to exist as such, and this in turn will lead to the loss of state foundations, because people will have to solve their problems in some other way", - says the lawyer.

The bells rang distinctly on this Single Election Day. When here and there, for various reasons, it is not the henchmen who win, this should motivate the authorities to take these winners under their wing, teach, explain, help. By and large, if a person is honest and understands the aspirations of the people, wants change, he has good mentors, then he can do a lot for his territories to the surprise of everyone. Of course, education is important. But if a person has only professionalism, but no value guidelines, then he directs all his skills not to general improvements, but to personal well-being, and then what is the meaning of such professionalism?" - says Melkonyants.

“I don’t know why everyone is focusing on this woman’s profession. Well, she's a cleaner, so what? In our State Duma, for example, people of different professions also sit - figure skaters, pianists, builders, not always intelligible comrades, so to speak. In this case, people voted against their superiors. And well done! In general, quite amusing for the Kostroma region. Several large campaigns took place there on Single Election Day. The most important is the election of the governor, he was elected with a "triumphant" 64 kopecks percent of the vote. There were elections to the City Duma of Kostroma... Well, before the heap, the cleaner was elected head of the settlement. Apparently, all the forces of the administrators went to large regional and city campaigns. We have somehow forgotten about the lowest level of elections", - says political consultant Grigory Telnov.

"This Election Day has shown once again that the lower the level of elections, the higher the competition and the more unpredictable the results. Why is that? This issue remains relevant. Either the administrators do not pay attention to this level, they are hammered in, in Russian speaking, or the people on the spot are more interested in the electoral processes, since they understand that something really depends on their vote, it can be decisive. By the way, there are many precedents in Russia, when it was in city dumas and local councils that independent and opposition candidates won by a margin of one or two votes. The tendency - even for the bald line, just not for the candidate from the government, if only the person was not even connected with it in any way - we have been observing since 2018, in some regions - even earlier. As experts now call it, the anti-elite request originated in modern Russia in 2018, when the Kremlin lost three governor's campaigns - in the Khabarovsk Territory, Khakassia and the Vladimir Region. At the municipal level, it is even easier to achieve victory for independent candidates”, - he notes.

It is another matter that later, just at the rural level, heads of administrations, elected or appointed, resign from their posts, because local self-government is in a deep crisis.

The heads have few powers, there is practically no - from the category - to organize lighting in the village. But there is no budget or resources. And if you cannot perform normally these minimal functions, then in 2-3 months supervisory and inspection bodies will come to you - we have a lot of them, and you will be constantly fined. These fines, as a rule, are issued directly to the heads of settlements as individuals, and from their salaries, which are not very high, by the way, these unfortunate heads are forced to give these fines for failure to fulfill their powers. As a result, people are fleeing these positions. What does this mean? The fact that we urgently need a reform of local government. Today, as a rule, heads of settlements are not elected, but appointed.

"People are taught not to participate in the local agenda, in local problems. Speaking in Russian, here we are up to these mice and scratched - not the best cadres get into the power at the local level. When the selection is underway, the teams of governors begin to think about who they would appoint as the head of a city. And it seems there are some people, including resource people - directors of factories or their deputies. They are offered to run, they are reassured, they say, the deputies will vote for you, everything will be okay, we will help you, but they refuse. Why? They understand that help may be given to you, but it will not be commensurate with the tasks that you face. In addition, you will always be guilty both before the regional authorities and before the people, because you have authority, and there is little money”, - Telnov says.

Political scientist Yekaterina Shulman believes that the reason for the "sudden" victories of spoiler candidates should be sought not in the absence of competition in elections (of any level), but in the inadequate perception of himself by the main candidate. Voters can ensure victory for a technical candidate, not only because they personally support him, but also simply because the incumbent is sick of it. This is a protest vote.

- Winning an election spoiler has nothing to do with the size of a rural settlement. This happens in presidential elections, in elections of mayors of large cities: the current head picks up what he thinks is a safe opponent and loses to him. This is an occasional story in elections of any level around the world. This happens because the election procedure is inherently indestructible. If you have at least two names in your newsletter, then there is always the possibility of an unexpected result.

Political models that do not want to take the risk of an unpredictable electoral result try to avoid this by excluding real rivals and admitting only those that seem safe to them. We call them spoilers, in Latin American political practice - electoral rabbits. This is a very common technique. Stories are no less common when such a rabbit wins an election because the voter needs to be updated. When people get bored with the incumbent, that is, the acting head of something, they will vote for anyone else. This is a universal phenomenon. In some African countries, this also happens in the presidential elections: the president sits for 30 years, then chooses, as it seems to him, a noun name, and loses to him in the first round, because he is sick of everyone, but he does not understand this - he was not informed to what extent he bored everyone. The only conclusion from such stories is that if you do have choices, be prepared for them to end in a different way. It is impossible to tame the elective procedure. All hybrid political models face this. Only the Soviet government found a way out: one item in the bulletin ... If these items are not one, but one plus one, surprises will occur, says Shulman.

Novye Izvestia: The version has been voiced more than once that the incumbent heads often have no real competitors in small towns and villages, they have to portray an alternative, because there are simply no people willing to take the head's chair. The salary is small, the responsibility is above the roof, the work is closest to the fields, while in the absence of real powers to form budgets, regional and regional authorities constantly demand results, and they demand it disproportionately to the beggarly subsidized content that is allocated. How true is this reasoning?

"If you register people, then you will have competition, and if you refuse to register, then you will not have it. It has nothing to do with the size of the settlement. The point is not that no one came, but that no one else was registered. Possibly, potential candidates did not even go to apply for registration, since it was known that the current head wanted to be re-elected and would not let anyone in. The head thus arranged, as it seems to him, a convenient situation, but received what he received. If this were not the case, then there would be no need for barriers on the way to registration, and the barriers in our legislation are not just high, but constantly increasing, in fact prohibitive. Therefore, there are those who want to run and there is a reason not to allow them to participate in the elections. The problem is not that no one wants to work for a small salary, but that the current leader does not want to leave", - says Shulman.

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