As the world watches the ongoing election developments in the United States, a lesser known vote is taking place in the city of Novosibirsk, Russia. On September 13th, residents of Novosibirsk – the third most populous city in Russia – will elect a new mayor. The vote is significant for several reasons, and has garnered attention both within and outside of Russia.
Novosibirsk is known for being a hub of scientific and technological innovation, as well as a major cultural center in Siberia. However, it also faces numerous challenges: the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental issues, corruption, and an aging infrastructure. The upcoming mayoral election has brought these issues to the forefront of public debate, as the candidates vie for support from residents.
One of the most notable aspects of the Novosibirsk election is the broad range of candidates running. In total, there are seven candidates representing various political parties and movements, ranging from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation to the libertarian-leaning party “Party of Growth.” This diversity of candidates is somewhat unusual in Russian elections, which are often criticized for being tightly managed by the Kremlin and lacking in genuine opposition.
The frontrunner in the race is Sergei Boiko, a member of the Communist Party and former regional governor. Boiko has campaigned on a platform of social justice and economic equality, and has emphasized his commitment to improving infrastructure in the city. However, Boiko’s candidacy has also been controversial, as he has faced accusations of corruption during his time in office.
Other notable candidates include Anatoly Lokot, a former deputy mayor of Novosibirsk who is running as an independent; Andrei Travnikov, the acting mayor who was appointed in 2018 following the resignation of the former mayor; and Ilya Uyanov, a member of the “Party of Growth” who has emphasized his commitment to entrepreneurship and reducing bureaucratic hurdles for businesses.
The Novosibirsk election has also attracted attention due to the role of social media in the campaign. Many of the candidates have relied heavily on online campaigning to reach voters, particularly as traditional campaigning methods such as rallies and door-to-door canvassing have been limited by COVID-19 restrictions. This has led to a flurry of engagement on platforms such as Telegram and Twitter, as well as online forums dedicated to discussing the election.
The outcome of the Novosibirsk mayoral election may have wider implications for Russian politics, particularly as the country gears up for parliamentary elections in 2021 and a presidential election in 2024. If Boiko were to win, it could signal a shift towards more socialist policies and a greater focus on addressing economic inequality – a departure from the current government’s emphasis on maintaining stability and order. However, it remains to be seen whether such a shift would be allowed to take place in practice, particularly as Russia’s political landscape continues to be shaped by the influence of the Kremlin.
In any case, the Novosibirsk vote is an important moment for the city and its residents, who are grappling with significant economic and political challenges. Regardless of the outcome, the election represents a rare opportunity for public debate and engagement in a country where opposition voices are often silenced.