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Looming Disaster for Alexei Navalny

The latest poll from Levada, Russia’s most trustworthy pollster, on the Moscow mayoral election came out on September 1 (Russian-language link). The results are devastatingly bad for Alexei Navalny.

Levada predicts that incumbent Mayor Sergei Sobyanin will win in a landslide. Levada’s data indicate that Sobyanin will finish with nearly 60% of the vote, three times more than Navalny will receive.  Not only won’t Navalny win, he won’t come close to even forcing Sobyanin into a runoff.

While Levada indicates that Navalny will collect 18% of the vote, it shows that this only amounts to 10% of all Moscow voters (Levada indicates that only about 60% of voters will go to the polls at most, and that only 20% of voters are paying close attention to the race), and Navalny’s negatives are much higher than his positives:  a whopping 23% of respondents say Navalny is the one candidate they definitely would not vote for.  Navalny’s negatives are roughly 50% higher than any other candidate in the race.

Navalny’s puny total of 18% is trailed closely by the Communist candidate, who is garnering 12% support.

But the worst news of all for Navalny is that the Moscow mayoral election may well be the fairest in all of Russian history, and it will be virtually impossible to attack it as being unfair.  The only gripe Navalny could have would be his somewhat restricted access to TV, but the Kremlin did allow him to participate in debates that were televised citywide and Navalny himself has touted his mastery of the Internet, to which the vast majority of Moscow voters have access.

Putin launched a brutal tirade against Navalny on state TV, clearly seeking to rub salt in Navalny’s wounds and jeer at him, as he did at Khodorkovsky. It’s doubtful Putin has the courage, however, to let Navalny answer him on the same program as basic fairness would dictate.

This election is shaping up to strike a fatal blow to Navalny.  It appears that he will be exposed as extremely weak even his his greatest bastion of strength, Moscow, and that his claim to any national power base is totally illusory. When he’s packed off to jail for many years after the election, it will be impossible for him to claim his imprisonment is politically motivated. “Why should the Kremlin need to jail someone who has no chance of winning power?” it will argue.

6 responses to “Looming Disaster for Alexei Navalny

  1. Minsky ⋅

    This is a little harsh. Navalny has faced a barrage of negativity in the Kremlin-controlled media, even with “documentaries” labelling him a criminal…if he draws close to 20% of the vote notwithstanding the efforts to depict him as a thief, it will actually be no small accomplishment.

    The main point about the election, though, is that the Kremlin seems to care about it a lot more than most Moscow voters, most of whom realize the complete futility of it.

    • larussophobe ⋅

      The main point is that the Kremlin wants Navalny to run and doesn’t have to rig the vote for him to lose. The main point is that he’ll be exposed as having less than a quarter of Moscow’s support, and far less than that in the nation. Had he not run, the Kremlin could not have made this claim.

      This is the third time Navalny has promised to influence the outcome of a vote (first Duma, then President, now Mayor) without being able to achieve any tangible results, not even a runoff.

  2. Minsky ⋅

    LR, I think we are in violent agreement that this is how the Kremlin sees things, and that they let him out of jail so he could lose the election before being sent packing to Siberia.
    Nonetheless, polling nearly 20% of apathetic Moscow voters (if he is that successful) in the face of the efforts in the media, and having just been convicted, is still an accomplishment. We’ll have to revisit this in a few months to see who’s right, and whether he continues to be a meaningful force while in prison.

    One factor that we can’t predict is where the price of oil is going, although we do know how the Kremlin will react when their only source of revenue dries up. But if oil prices continue to remain unpredictably high, and postpone the eventual crash, the Kremlin may not pay care about Navalny or his influence. Political competition is a threat when people don’t have money to buy bread.

    • larussophobe ⋅

      Just not sure it’s an accomplishment if it’s what the Kremlin wants because it legitimizes Sobyanin and delegitimizes Navalny. Also, if a big part of that 20% are racist-fascist nutjobs may not be such an accomplishment.

  3. Minsky ⋅

    Apology if this comment is a bit out of place, but the election is this weekend.
    I had an interesting conversation with some liberal professionals in St. Pete today, who work internationally, and expressed how they detest the nationalistic national media, United Russia, and the corruption and general direction of everything. They also both think Navalny was framed, and that there is no question he is innocent of the charges.
    But they also expressed a shared outrage at Navalny’s campaign for public office. “He is a blogger! How does that qualify him? What has done to be capable of that job – does he think people are stupid?”
    It was not a pro- or anti-Kremlin sentiment, just pure competency and qualifications to run for office.

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