Overcoming Depoliticization: the 2014 Local Electoral Campaign in St. Petersburg
- 17 Downloads
This article presents the results of an empirical study conducted during and after the 2014 local elections in St. Petersburg. In these elections, a number of new activists tried to run as candidates for the municipal council under the conditions of a depoliticized society. Our research was inductive: we progressed from field study to later theoretical interpretation of our results. The formulation of our research questions was therefore simple: how and why did the activist candidates participate in the local elections and what can their electoral campaigns tell us about how both activists and people in Russia see contemporary politics? To answer these questions, we analyze the different types of campaign conducted, the communication between candidates and voters, the characteristics of support groups and social movements, and the campaign outcomes and their significance for understanding politicization and depoliticization in Russia today. The data for this study was collected through participant observation and in-depth interviews with activist candidates and their supporters. Detailed analysis of their narratives not only allowed us to understand their experiences but also enabled us to formulate some conclusions about contemporary Russian politics and about how activists and ordinary citizens view the political system. Thus, we argue that the activist candidates not only tried to become candidates but also—through their campaigns and selection of campaigning methods—helped to overcome depoliticization and strengthen local social movements.
KeywordsLocal elections Activism Depoliticization Electoral campaign Local social movement
This article is based on research supported by the Norwegian Research Council (NEPORUS project, NORRUS grant no. 228205) and the Russian Foundation of Fundamental Research (the project “Quality of Urban Space: Vectors of Civil Initiative Groups’ Development in Russia and Germany”, RFFR № 16–03-00508).
- Agaphonova, A. (2016). Sociopoliticheskij kontekst lokal’noj gorodskoj territorii: Kejs Kanonerskogo ostrova Sankt-Peterburga [paths of political change of a local urban area: the case of Kanonersky island, St. Petersburg]. Vestnik SPBGU, 12(1), 88–101.Google Scholar
- Alekseev, A., (2014). Kommentarij k rezul’tatam vyborov gubernatora Sankt-Peterburga 14 sentjabrja 2014 [Commentary on the results of the election of the governor of St. Petersburg on September 14, 2014]. Cogita!. Retrieved from http://www.cogita.ru/a.n.-alekseev/andrei-alekseev-1/kommentarii-k-rezultatam-vyborov-gubernatora-sankt-peterburga-14-sentyabrya-2014. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Beinin, J. and Vairel, F. (eds.) (2013). Social movements, mobilization, and contestation in the Middle East and North Africa. Stanford University Press. Stanford.Google Scholar
- Brenner, N., Marcuse, P., & Mayer, M. (Eds.). (2012). Cities for people, not for profit: critical urban theory and the right to the city. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Carothers, T. & Youngs, R. (2015). The complexities of global protests. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved from http://carnegieendowment.org/2015/10/08/complexities-of-global-protests/ikoo . Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Clement, C., Mirjasova, O., & Demidov, A. (2010). Ot obyvatelej k aktivistam. Zarozhdajushhiesja social’nye dvizhenija v sovremennoj Rossii [from inhabitants to activists. Emerging social movements in modern Russia]. Moscow: Tri kvadrata.Google Scholar
- Gelman, V. (2014). Trudnoe vozrozhdenie politicheskoj oppozicii v Rossii [the difficult resurgence of political opposition in Russia]. PONARS Evrasia Retrieved from http://www.ponarseurasia.org/sites/default/files/policy-memos-pdf/Pepm_341_rus_Gelman_September2014.pdf. Accessed May 19 2019.
- Golosov, G., (2011b). ‘Russia’s regional legislative elections, 2003–2007: authoritarianism incorporated’. Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 63/ 3.Google Scholar
- Kara-Murza, V., (2012). Khimki: Local elections, national importance. Institute of Modern Russia, September 17. http://imrussia.org/en/politics/301-fake-russia-2012-khimki .
- Klochkova, K. & Korotkov, D., (2014). Chudesnaja arifmetika vyborov [wonderful election arithmetic]. Fontanka. Retrieved from http://www.fontanka.ru/2014/09/17/235. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Na municipal’nyh vyborah zaregistrirovany 3739 kandidatov [3739 candidates were registered for the municipal elections]. (2014). Rosbalt. Retrieved from http://www.rosbalt.ru/piter/2014/08/07/1301350.html. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Navalny, A., (2013). kandidat v mjery Moskvy 2013. Otchet o predvybornoj kampanii [Alexey Navalny, Moscow governor candidate 2013. Election company report-back]. Navalny. Retrieved from http://report.navalny.ru/media/navalny_report.pdf. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Pleyers, G. (2011). Alter-globalization: becoming actors in the global age. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Reuter, O., & Robertson, G. (2012). Subnational appointments in authoritarian regimes: evidence from Russian gubernatorial appointments. J Polit, 74(4), 1–15 http://ojreuter.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ReuterRobertsonJOP.pdf. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Ross, C., & Panov, P. (2018). The range and limitation of sub-national regime variations under electoral authoritarianism: the case of Russia. Regional & Federal Studies, 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/13597566.2018.1530221.
- Shablinskij, I. (2014). Analiticheskaja spravka v svjazi so sluchajami narushenij izbiratel’nyh prav v hode vyborov 14 sentjabrja [analytical review of instances of violations of electoral rights during the elections on September 14] [blog post]. Retrieved from http://president-sovet.ru/members/blogs/post/861. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Turovets, M. (2015). Protivostojanie depolitizacii: dvizhenie protiv dobychi Nikelja v Voronezhskoj oblasti [Confrontation depoliticization: the movement against the nickel mine in the Voronezh region]. In S. V. Erpyleva & A. V. Magun (Eds.), Politika apolitichnyh: Grazhdanskie dvizhenija v Rossii 2011–2013 godov (pp. 408–444). Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie 408–444.Google Scholar
- Volkov, D., (2012). The protesters and the public. Journal of Democracy Johns Hopkins University Press Vol. 23/3, pp. 55–62. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/480973/summary. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Vybory v Sankt-Peterburge—2014: Anomalii oficial’nyh dannyh [elections in St. Petersburg—2014: official data anomalies]. (2015). Nabljudateli Peterburga. Retrieved from https://spbelect.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Anomalii_SPb_2014_-_NP.pdf. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Zajavlenie (2014). Zajavlenie "Golosa" po rezul’tatam analiza oficial’nyh dannyh itogov golosovanija na vyborah, sostojavshihsja v gorode Sankt-Peterburge 14 sentjabrja 2014 goda [Statement of “The Voice” on the results of the analysis of the official data of the voting in the elections held in St. Petersburg on September 14, 2014]. Retrieved from http://www.golosinfo.org/ru/articles/1033. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Zakon Sankt-Petersburga ob organizatsii mestnogo samoupravlenija, [The law of St. Petersburg on organization of local self-government] (2009). Retrieved from https://www.gov.spb.ru/gov/terr/reg_kurort/municipalnye-obrazovaniya/zakon-sankt-peterburga-ob-organizacii-mestnogo-samoupravleniya-v-sankt/. Accessed 19 May 2019.
- Zhuravlev, O. (2015). Inercija postsovetskoj depolitizacii i politizacija 2011–2012 godov [The inertia of post-soviet depolitization and politization in 2011–2012]. In S. Erpyleva & A. Magun (Eds.), Politika apolitichnyh: Grazhdanskie dvizhenija v Rossii 2011–2013 godov (pp. 408–444). Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie 27–70.Google Scholar
- Zhuravlev, O., Saveleva, N., & Erpyljova, S. (2014). Individualizm i solidarnost’ v novyh grazhdanskih dvizhenijah [Individualism and solidarity in new civic movements]. Zhurnal issledovanij social’noj politiki, 12(2), 185–200.Google Scholar