PM’s Popular Front bans unpopular politicians from primaries

The All-Russia Popular Front is not allowing unpopular governors to stand in its primaries.

The announcement was made by the head of the front’s campaign office, Vyacheslav Volodin.

He says regional heads who withdraw on account of their popularity ratings will do so “without harming their reputation.”

So far 30 governors, including those of Smolensk, Leningrad, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Kaliningrad, have been asked to withdraw.

The idea is to create opportunities for representatives of public organisations. Current and former governors, mayors and deputies are favorites for the primaries in the majority of regions.

The joint primaries of United Russia and the Popular Front will yield a list of 600 candidates for the Duma elections. A quarter of them will be Popular Front representatives.

The initiative to set up the All-Russia Popular Front came from Prime Minister Putin at the beginning of May. The aim of the movement is to bring together a number of various political parties, trade unions, youth and women’s organizations under a single political platform.

This, in Putin’s view, would not only allow public initiatives to be advanced more easily, but also the enlargement of the electorate of the United Russia party, the performance of which during elections to local legislatures was not satisfactory. So ahead of the parliamentary election on December 4, the party led by Vladimir Putin needs to strengthen its position by attracting more of the electorate.

Since its establishment the Popular Front has been proclaimed an organization anyone can join, whatever his or her citizenship is. Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Finland and Moldova have already expressed their interest.

On July 28, an election official complained about Putin’s political platform, the All-Russia Popular Front. The official says that United Russia will not be able to draw on the group’s support in December’s Duma vote, as the Popular Front has foreign members.

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