The regional policy strategy before the so-called transfer of power in 2024 is focused on the rigid mobilization and consolidation of regional elites around the federal center. This scenario was chosen to ensure a painless power transfer for the institutions undergoing technological transformation, said the Transit of Power After the COVID-19 Pandemic analytical report published by the Agency for Strategic Communications (ASK) on February 7.
According to the ASK, the KPIs and performance indicators for governors will be based solely on their ability to ensure the consolidation and at the same time find resources for the economic development of regions.
This policy, announced at the 2021 State Duma elections, was followed up with the rotation of regional leaders who had shown inefficiency in providing the United Russia party of power with electoral support.
Experts believe that the first reshuffles, prompted by the slow pace of vaccination, the growing debt burden on the regions due to the pandemic, and the weak performance of the ruling party in the elections, were carried out as early as October 2021 as the governors of the Tambov and Vladimir regions resigned.
According to the ASK experts, Valentin Konovalov, Head of Khakasia, Igor Vasilyev, Governor of the Kirov region, Nikolai Lyubimov, Governor of the Ryazan region, and Sergei Zhvachkin, Governor of the Tomsk region, are the most likely “bounce candidates” in 2022.
“In contrast to the idea of consolidation, the parties of the so-called systemic opposition became much stronger, mainly due to their opposition to the authorities in the issue of vaccination and their populist criticism of the socio-economic block of the government. The CPRF demonstrated the most impressive results in the elections to regional parliaments in 30 regions, mostly in the Volga Federal District and the Far East. The highest popularity rating of the CPRF (32%) was recorded in Khakassia. In addition to United Russia, LDPR suffered significant losses. The party lost seats in 35 of the 39 parliaments,” says the report.
According to sociologists, the CPRF party poses a serious threat to political stability due to its radicalization and the rapid growth of its popularity by accumulating a protest electorate, including supporters of the non-systemic opposition. This situation will require intervention by the Kremlin, which may replace party leader Gennady Zyuganov with a more loyal politician to eliminate the imminent danger.
United Russia's popularity continues to decline. The party has a rating of 24.25% in the Kemerovo region, 22.75% in the Komi Republic, 23.11% in Trans-Baikal Territory, 21.48% in Buryatia, and just 15.36% in the Khabarovsk territory.
“With United Russia's anti-rating trend, the Kremlin might put to the forefront a combination of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's LDPR party, socialists represented by A Just Russia, and right-wing populists represented by the New People to maintain a balance in the State Duma,” the ASK experts say.
United Russia will remain the main instrument to ensure the transit of power. According to experts, the party will be governed in cooperation with the power bloc, and its work will be reduced to resolving inter-elite disputes and the use of administrative leverage. Therefore, the popularity and public approval ratings of United Russia will assume secondary significance compared with other parties.