‘The results of the elections in Tatarstan are important to determine trends of Russia’s political development’

Russian and Tatarstan political experts about a record turnout in the republic and the region’s tasks on the threshold of elections to the State Duma

‘The results of the elections in Tatarstan are important to determine trends of Russia’s political development’
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Tatarstan’s social well-being amid other Russian regions, plus the authorities’ high popularity at federal level secured it a high turnout in the election, many of political experts surveyed by Realnoe Vremya stated. Moscow pays a lot of attention to Kazan as one of the Russian capitals. Moreover, this electoral campaign is kind of a final rehearsal before the responsible elections to the State Duma in 2021, and the measurement of moods in such a region as Tatarstan is especially important.

Four electoral campaigns took place in Tatarstan in September. The republic chose a president, additional elections of a Russian State Duma deputy were held in the Nizhnekamsk Electoral District, the Yelabuga Electoral District had additional elections of the Tatarstan State Duma deputy and deputies of local governments were held everyone. Early voting was on 11 and 12 September, while the only voting day was on 13 September.

Five candidates participated in the Tatarstan presidential election. Oleg Korobchenko from Growth Party, current head of the republic Rustam Minnikhanov (United Russia), Almir Mikheyev (Fair Russia), Aldred Valiyev (Russia’s Communists) and Vladimir Surchilov (LDPR).

  • Sergey Markov

    Sergey Markov Director General of Institute of Political Research NP

    There are several reasons why Tatarstan has a very high turnout of voters. Firstly, it is huge successes of the republic. Tatarstan has one of the highest qualities of life, Kazan is one of the most advanced cities of the country, from a perspective of a healthy lifestyle, infrastructure, high technologies, access to jobs, etc.

    Secondly, Tatarstan has a combination of high modernisation with traditional consciousness, which provides a higher turnout. Thirdly, good relationships between the republic and the federal centre play a big role. Moreover, I would also add the traditionally high popularity of the Tatarstan management to this — Mintimer Shaimiyev, Rustam Minnikhanov.

    Tatarstan is actively monitored from the point of view that Kazan is one of Russia’s capitals to a certain degree. The Volga subregion is rich, the economy collapsed there less than in other regions [during the coronacrisis], this is why it has money, and this attracts different political forces. Moreover, it is considered that there is more protest activity in the capitals where the quality of life is high. This is why those who want to spur a protest go to capitals. Navalny and others go there in hope that the status of the region as capital will provide growth of protest. The federal centre, in turn, pays big attention to the region in fear of a rise in protest moods this time.

  • Sergey Markov

    Sergey Markov Director General of Institute of Political Research NP

    There are several reasons why Tatarstan has a very high turnout of voters. Firstly, it is huge successes of the republic. Tatarstan has one of the highest qualities of life, Kazan is one of the most advanced cities of the country, from a perspective of a healthy lifestyle, infrastructure, high technologies, access to jobs, etc.

    Secondly, Tatarstan has a combination of high modernisation with traditional consciousness, which provides a higher turnout. Thirdly, good relationships between the republic and the federal centre play a big role. Moreover, I would also add the traditionally high popularity of the Tatarstan management to this — Mintimer Shaimiyev, Rustam Minnikhanov.

    Tatarstan is actively monitored from the point of view that Kazan is one of Russia’s capitals to a certain degree. The Volga subregions is rich, the economy collapsed there less than in other regions [during the coronacrisis], this is why it has money, and this attracts different political forces. Moreover, it is considered that there is protest activity in the capitals where the quality of life is high has a higher concentration. This is why those who want to spur a protest go to capitals. Navalny and others go there in hope that the status of the region as capital will provide growth of protest. The federal centre, in turn, pays big attention to the region in fear of a rise in protest moods this time.

  • Oleg Matveychev

    Oleg Matveychev political expert, political consultant, Higher School of Economics professor

    Yes, the turnout in Tatarstan is high. Firstly, it is easier to work for three days, it is harder to visit to everybody with a ballot box in one day. Secondly, Tatarstan has a big share of the rural population, while the countryside traditionally votes well, the turnout is already 70-80% there, and if it is 3 days of voting, it can be even 100% in some villages in the case of early voting. I already know villages that showed 90-100% because the lists of voters were cleared: if a person isn’t living in the village, he is gone, he isn’t on the list. Cities vote the worst: you can’t supervise everybody, people are less conscious.

    Tatarstan always plays as a team, and if the head of the republic, authoritative people expressed urges, consequently, the population also responds with respect.

    I wouldn’t say that the attention is high precisely to Tatarstan. The attention increased to all elections, first of all, because it is the last united voting day before the State Duma elections in 2021. And in this sense, it is a litmus test. They won’t repeat the results of the united voting day but in any case they will be close to them. Mass consciousness development tendencies show it, therefore it is the best sociological research.

    As for an outlook, I think everything will be fine. And there aren’t even options that there will be a surprise because the whole country sees how intensively Tatarstan develops, that is one of the most innovative republics in all senses, not only technical but also managerial and financial innovations. The republic moves forward, and it is quite stupid to make complaints about the authorities in such a situation.

  • Oleg Matveychev

    Oleg Matveychev political expert, political consultant, Higher School of Economics professor

    Yes, the turnout in Tatarstan is high. Firstly, it is easier to work for three days, it is harder to visit to everybody with a ballot box in one day. Secondly, Tatarstan has a big share of the rural population, while the countryside traditionally votes well, the turnout is already 70-80% there, and if it is 3 days of voting, it can be even 100% in some villages in the case of early voting. I already know villages that showed 90-100% because the lists of voters were cleared: if a person isn’t living in the village, he is gone, he isn’t on the list. Cities vote the worst: you can’t supervise everybody, people are less conscious.

    Tatarstan always plays as a team, and if the head of the republic, authoritative people expressed urges, consequently, the population also responds with respect.

    I wouldn’t say that the attention is high precisely to Tatarstan. The attention increased to all elections, first of all, because it is the last united voting day before the State Duma elections in 2021. And in this sense, it is a litmus test. They won’t repeat the results of the united voting day but in any case they will be close to them. Mass consciousness development tendencies show it, therefore it is the best sociological research.

    As for an outlook, I think everything will be fine. And there aren’t even options that there will be a surprise because the whole country sees how intensively Tatarstan develops, that is one of the most innovative republics in all senses, not only technical but also managerial and financial innovations. The republic moves forward, and it is quite stupid to make complaints about the authorities in such a situation.

  • Konstantin Kalachev

    Konstantin Kalachev political strategist

    Talking about the turnout, we should understand that there are rural districts where elections are a holiday and an occasion to show off and look at others. They have traditions, there is a habit, and disciplined people go to vote. But I think that in Kazan it doesn’t work this way. Moreover, Tatarstan knows how to organise elections as a big and bright event. Again, the level of social well-being is above the average in the republic, the authorities of the republic demonstrate a high quality of public administration.

    At the same time, Tatarstan has a vertical of power that penetrates all levels, there isn’t a split in elites, there is a discipline and order. The elections in your republic are always like a referendum — a folk plebiscite with a forecasted result about the trust in the authorities.

  • Konstantin Kalachev

    Konstantin Kalachev political strategist

    Talking about the turnout, we should understand that there are rural districts where elections are a holiday and an occasion to show off and look at others. They have traditions, there is a habit, and disciplined people go to vote. But I think that in Kazan it doesn’t work this way. Moreover, Tatarstan knows how to organise elections as a big and bright event. Again, the level of social well-being is above the average in the republic, the authorities of the republic demonstrate a high quality of public administration.

    At the same time, Tatarstan has a vertical of power that penetrates all levels, there isn’t a split in elites, there is a discipline and order. The elections in your republic are always like a referendum — a folk plebiscite with a forecasted result about the trust in the authorities.

  • Andrey Tuzikov

    Andrey Tuzikov political expert, head of Tatarstan office of Izbor Club

    The population of Tatarstan is used to going to elections, it is a republican tradition. The elderly are especially disciplined in going to elections. I think that the presidential campaign in Tatarstan in general is a driver for all other campaigns. Elections to municipal authorities don’t usually cause a big activity. I will repeat that the fact that this process is linked with the top official’s election I think is the main motivation.

  • Andrey Tuzikov

    Andrey Tuzikov political expert, head of Tatarstan office of Izbor Club

    The population of Tatarstan is used to going to elections, it is a republican tradition. The elderly are especially disciplined in going to elections. I think that the presidential campaign in Tatarstan in general is a driver for all other campaigns. Elections to municipal authorities don’t usually cause a big activity. I will repeat that the fact that this process is linked with the top official’s election I think is the main motivation.

  • Ilya Graschenkov

    Ilya Graschenkov political expert, director of Centre for Regional Politics Development

    When the turnout unexpectedly goes above 50% during the first two days, it turns out that it can near 70-80% on the third day. For Russia where the average turnout is 30-40%, such growth looks very suspicious. As for high interest in Tatarstan, it is interesting at least thanks to it scale. It is a truly serious regions whose results will be presented and studied across Russia, and not only in its regions.

    Undoubtedly, the high turnout in Tatarstan also draws attention, this is why a lot of Telegram channels summing it up and making forecasts with this data today.

  • Ilya Graschenkov

    Ilya Graschenkov political expert, director of Centre for Regional Politics Development

    When the turnout unexpectedly goes above 50% during the first two days, it turns out that it can near 70-80% on the third day. For Russia where the average turnout is 30-40%, such growth looks very suspicious. As for high interest in Tatarstan, it is interesting at least thanks to it scale. It is a truly serious regions whose results will be presented and studied across Russia, and not only in its regions.

    Undoubtedly, the high turnout in Tatarstan also draws attention, this is why a lot of Telegram channels summing it up and making forecasts with this data today.

  • Aleksey Martynov

    Aleksey Martynov political expert, member of International Expert Center for Electoral Systems

    Moreover, Tatarstan hosted additional elections to the Russian State Duma, that’s to say, there is an element of the federal campaign. Bright people participated in them — look at Senator Oleg Morozov alone. I will also remind you that this united voting day is the first after the pandemic. Though I should say that we haven’t got out of this regime completely. In any case, people want to go back to normal life soon, including to public and political life.

    At the same time, the voting precedes the big federal election — this is a test case, groundwork for the next year and an opportunity to collect signatures for the Duma campaign for new and small parties.

    I can agree that the attention to Tatarstan is a bit higher than usually. It is hard to say why. As for the negativism, it increased a bit in general if we are talking about new media. Systemic and non-systemic oppositionists also actively prepare for the next year, the federal campaign. They also test various systems, including mechanisms of negative coverage of electoral procedures, this is why this is no surprise. And this refers not only to Tatarstan but also other regions where a voting is held.

  • Aleksey Martynov

    Aleksey Martynov political expert, member of International Expert Center for Electoral Systems

    Moreover, Tatarstan hosted additional elections to the Russian State Duma, that’s to say, there is an element of the federal campaign. Bright people participated in them — look at Senator Oleg Morozov alone. I will also remind you that this united voting day is the first after the pandemic. Though I should say that we haven’t got out of this regime completely. In any case, people want to go back to normal life soon, including to public and political life.

    At the same time, the voting precedes the big federal election — this is a test case, groundwork for the next year and an opportunity to collect signatures for the Duma campaign for new and small parties.

    I can agree that the attention to Tatarstan is a bit higher than usually. It is hard to say why. As for the negativism, it increased a bit in general if we are talking about new media. Systemic and non-systemic oppositionists also actively prepare for the next year, the federal campaign. They also test various systems, including mechanisms of negative coverage of electoral procedures, this is why this is no surprise. And this refers not only to Tatarstan but also other regions where a voting is held.

  • Dmitry Abzalov

    Dmitry Abzalov political expert, president of Centre for Strategic Communications

    Tatarstan always demonstrates a high turnout in the elections in the country. These are peculiarities of the national republic in general. The republic has a special situation. Tatarstan, of course, has a very high turnout and support. It is also clear that difficulties with coronavirus are objective because they fell mainly on the regional budget. But in general Minnikhanov was given certain carte blanche.

    Another question is the elections to the State Duma are next year, and United Russia will have to show real results, including in Tatarstan. Generally speaking, there is a series of difficulties, complications and problems, I remind you that there were stories about the language, voting on the Constitution, consequently, there was a misunderstanding between the region and the federal centre for some time. This is why from this perspective, the result is more or less clear. The issue is that a new head of the region might come in the next elections, it is a matter of preparation for this process.

    Tatarstan is famous for being able to relatively painlessly to make a transition in the past unlike Bashkiria because Shaimiyev found a successor for himself effectively, without conflicts with the federal centre. While Bashkiria had a serious conflict, as a result, all agreements were reset. This is why from this point of view it is very important to support this succession of power, especially given that Tatarstan is a very important resource for the pro-power voting in the 2021 parliamentary campaign.

  • Dmitry Abzalov

    Dmitry Abzalov political expert, president of Centre for Strategic Communications

    Tatarstan always demonstrates a high turnout in the elections in the country. These are peculiarities of the national republic in general. The republic has a special situation. Tatarstan, of course, has a very high turnout and support. It is also clear that difficulties with coronavirus are objective because they fell mainly on the regional budget. But in general Minnikhanov was given certain carte blanche.

    Another question is the elections to the State Duma are next year, and United Russia will have to show real results, including in Tatarstan. Generally speaking there is a series of difficulties, complicacies and problems, I remind you that there were stories about the language, voting on the Constitution, consequently, there was a misunderstanding with the federal centre for some time. This is why from this perspective, the result is more or less clear. The issue is that a new head of the region might come in the next elections, it is a matter of preparation for this process.

    Tatarstan is famous for being able to relatively painlessly to make a transition in the past unlike Bashkiria because Shaimiyev found a successor for himself effectively, without conflicts with the federal centre. While Bashkiria had a serious conflict, as a result, all agreements were reset. This is why from this point of view it is very important to support this succession of power, especially given that Tatarstan is a very important resource for a pro-power voting in the 2021 parliamentary campaign.

  • Yevgeny Minchenko

    Yevgeny Minchenko political expert, president of Minchenko Consulting communication holding

    Tatarstan traditionally has a high level of electoral manageability and administrative mobilisation. This is why such a high turnout is new and unexpected. As for the attacks on the republic, Navalny’s offices are active enough almost everywhere.

    Rustam Minnikhanov will calmly serve his term he was chosen for. Considering the specific electoral culture of Tatarstan, it is hard to compare it to the other regions.

    Elections in Russia in general don’t have surprises, everything is good, and we see that opposition candidates opposed almost nowhere. The situation in the country turned out to be quite manageably despite the crisis and pandemic. But this won’t happen in the elections to the 2021 State Duma. The governors’ elections anyway had some changes: in exchange for a post, some preferences and so on. While both parties and deputies for a single-seat district will fight in the elections to the State Duma, and I think that the fight will much fiercer at that moment.

  • Yevgeny Minchenko

    Yevgeny Minchenko political expert, president of Minchenko Consulting communication holding

    Tatarstan traditionally has a high level of electoral manageability and administrative mobilisation. This is why such a high turnout is new and unexpected. As for the attacks on the republic, Navalny’s offices are active enough almost everywhere.

    Rustam Minnikhanov will calmly serve his term he was chosen for. Considering the specific electoral culture of Tatarstan, it is hard to compare it to the other regions.

    Elections in Russia in general don’t have surprises, everything is good, and we see that opposition candidates opposed almost nowhere. The situation in the country turned out to be quite manageably despite the crisis and pandemic. But this won’t happen in the elections to the 2021 State Duma. The governors’ elections anyway had some changes: in exchange for a post, some preferences and so on. While both parties and deputies for single-seat district will fight in the elections to the State Duma, and I think that the fight will much fiercer at that moment.

  • Andrey Kortunov

    Andrey Kortunov Russian political expert and pubic activist, president of New Eurasia founded by Eurasia (USA) and Dynasty (Russia) funds

    Of course, every region has its specifics, and if we are talking about Tatarstan, this region has traditionally been known for a good political discipline. This tendency has been seen for many years: both from a perspective of the ability of the regional leader to provide a turnout. This probably can’t surprise. Of course, we should see what results there will be, but at least the political activity in Tatarstan has always been higher than, let’s say, neighbouring regions. In this case, this just proved the general tendency.

    The political and socioeconomic situation can change in a year, this is why it seems to me that the 2020 election results don’t guarantee that the same will happen in 2021. Nevertheless, this, of course, is a certain measurement of moods. I think the results of these elections will be used by both the ruling party and opposition forces to evaluate their chances in the elections next year. They are very important, without doubt. This voting can be considered a final rehearsal of the elections to the 2021 State Duma.

    Tatarstan is anyway quite a peculiar region — historically, culturally and ethnically. Of course, Minnikhanov stands out as a head of the region, but it seems to me that in many aspects Tatarstan is a pioneer in mastering new economic mechanisms, new concepts of regional development. This is why, of course, many will follow the republic’s example, and the results of the elections in Tatarstan are especially important, at least to determine some trends of Russia’s political development.

  • Andrey Kortunov

    Andrey Kortunov Russian political expert and pubic activist, president of New Eurasia founded by Eurasia (USA) and Dynasty (Russia) funds

    Of course, every region has its specifics, and if we are talking about Tatarstan, this region has traditionally been known for a high political discipline. This tendency has been seen for many years: both from a perspective of the ability of the regional leader to provide a turnout. This probably can’t surprise. Of course, we should see what results there will be, but at least the political activity in Tatarstan has always been higher than, let’s say, neighbouring regions. In this case, this just proved the general tendency.

    The political and socioeconomic situation can change in a year, this is why it seems to me that the 2020 election results don’t guarantee that the same will happen in 2021. Nevertheless, this, of course, is a certain measurement of moods. I think the results of these elections will be used by both the ruling party and opposition forces to evaluate their chances in the elections next year. They are very important, without doubt. This voting can be considered a final rehearsal of the elections to the 2021 State Duma.

    Tatarstan is anyway quite a peculiar region — historically, culturally and ethnically. Of course, Minnikhanov stands out as a head of the region, but it seems to me that in many aspects Tatarstan is a pioneer in mastering new economic mechanisms, new concepts of regional development. This is why, of course, many will follow the republic’s example, and the results of the elections in Tatarstan are especially important, at least to determine some trends of Russia’s political development.

  • Andrey Bolshakov

    Andrey Bolshakov head of KFU’s Department of Conflict Management, executive secretary of KFU’s Expert Council

    Why is attention paid to Tatarstan? The region is stable and successful enough. Such regions are constantly subjected to attack. We see an obvious information attack several days before the elections. It seems to me that this fits in clear geopolitical logic. Today there are events linked with Mr Navalny, and there are events we see in Belarus. We see the territory that’s quite successful in the Russian Federation is attacked. Not depressive regions are attacked. It means there was set a certain task here — to make sure this territory is destabilised. We see that even though people get access to all information (today you can’t forbid reading an opposition politician’s blog), people certainly support the course the current president follows. Despite data of sociological research, which differs from official data, the trends will be clear enough, and the same president will stay. It means the same course for development, the stability of Tatarstan will stay.

    Such attention will be paid in the next years as well. Unfortunately, we are on a cruel geopolitical battlefield, on the forefront. We see that Belarus was almost taken away. And the current figure of the president of Belarus isn’t the case. I agree with Belarusian citizens, their president has made mistakes during his rule, they were recorded. But it doesn’t mean that Belarus needs to be withdrawn from the EAEU — the only integration project of Russia. One should perhaps have a wider view of these things. Attention in the Russian Federation will probably be paid to stable regions. This is why the campaign promised to be calm, quiet, this is why when an information attack was staged, it was made on a region that can boast about its stability, the clarity of the voting, that’s why a blow was landed. It is logical.

    As for the high turnout, we traditionally vote this way. The three-day voting also influenced the turnout. This certain political tradition is cultivated in Tatarstan, it is a pride, it will pass from elections to elections in the next years. But if you look at the dynamics of all campaigns, you will see that the turnout isn’t excessive. Some regions had 108%, etc. Tatarstan has never permitted such things. If we look at the campaign of the Russian presidential elections, the voting on amendments to the Russian Constitution, the current campaign, I can’t say that we are always on the front line. For instance, Bashkiria had a higher turnout than we did in the voting on the Constitution. The authorities, mass media that urged to go to the elections perhaps worked more actively (in Bashkiria). The online content about how important those amendments made to the text of the Constitution were for the republic maybe played a role.

  • Andrey Bolshakov

    Andrey Bolshakov head of KFU’s Department of Conflict Management, executive secretary of KFU’s Expert Council

    Why is attention paid to Tatarstan? The region is stable and successful enough. Such regions are constantly subjected to attack. We see an obvious information attack several days before the elections. It seems to me that this fits in a clear geopolitical logic. Today there are events linked with Mr Navalny, and there are events we see in Belarus. We see the territory that’s quite successful in the Russian Federation is attacked. Not depressive regions are attacked. It means there was set a certain task here — to make sure this territory is destabilised. We see that even though people get access to all information (today you can’t forbid reading an opposition politician’s blog), people certainly support the course the current president follows. Despite data of sociological research, which differs from official data, the trends will be clear enough, and the same president will stay. It means the same course for development, stability of Tatarstan will stay.

    Such attention will be paid in the next years as well. Unfortunately, we are on a cruel geopolitical battlefield, on the forefront. We see that Belarus was almost taken away. And the current figure of the president of Belarus isn’t the case. I agree with Belarusian citizens, their president has made mistakes during his rule, they were recorded. But it doesn’t mean that Belarus needs to be withdrawn from the EAEU — the only integration project of Russia. One should perhaps have a wider view of these things. Attention in the Russian Federation will probably paid to stable regions. This is why the campaign promised to be calm, quiet, this is why when an information attack was staged, it was made on a region that can boast about its stability, the clarity of the voting, that’s why a blow was landed. It is logical.

    As for the high turnout, we traditionally vote this way. The three-day voting also influenced the turnout. This certain political tradition is cultivated in Tatarstan, it is a pride, it will pass from elections to elections in the next years. But if you look at the dynamics of all campaigns, you will see that the turnout isn’t excessive. Some regions had 108%, etc. Tatarstan has never permitted such things. If we look at the campaign of the Russian presidential elections, the voting on amendments to the Russian Constitution, the current campaign, I can’t say that we are always on the front line. For instance, Bashkiria had a higher turnout than we did in the voting on the Constitution. The authorities, mass media that urged to go to the elections perhaps worked more actively (in Bashkiria). The online content about how important those amendments made to the text of the Constitution for the republic maybe played a role.

  • Andrey Kondratyev

    Andrey Kondratyev chairman of Tatarstan Central Electoral Committee

    We did nothing to draw attention to Tatarstan. There was an idea to invite bloggers. And everybody suddenly began to ask about it. I think it is a good project. Let’s look at its result: what they will write posts on social media and how will characterise it in general. As for Moscow, Tatarstan is always in the limelight — in terms of both messages and results. It doesn’t matter here who chairs the CEC. This always happens this way.

  • Andrey Kondratyev

    Andrey Kondratyev chairman of Tatarstan Central Electoral Committee

    We did nothing to draw attention to Tatarstan. There was an idea to invite bloggers. And everybody suddenly began to ask about it. I think it is a good project. Let’s look at its result: what they will post on social media and how will characterise it in general. As for Moscow, Tatarstan is always in the limelight — in terms of both messages and results. It doesn’t matter here who chairs the CEC. This always happens this way.

  • Zilya Valeyeva

    Zilya Valeyeva chairwoman of Tatarstan Civic Chamber

    Our elections are serious: we chose the president, two deputies (to the State Duma, State Council), and big group of deputies was chosen in municipalities. But Tatarstan is a pioneer in the attraction of technologies, including bloggers. This is why people look at us as a federal site that tests new approaches to attract votes, supervisors. Tatarstan’s experience during such a responsible period of elections always interests. It is seen in other regions: conflicts, a low activity of voters. One has to learn how to work in a way that people approached elections trusting each other.

  • Zilya Valeyeva

    Zilya Valeyeva chairwoman of Tatarstan Civic Chamber

    Our elections are serious: we chose the president, two deputies (to the State Duma, State Council), and big group of deputies was chosen in municipalities. But Tatarstan is a pioneer in attraction technologies, including bloggers. This is why people look at us as a federal site that tests new approaches to attract votes, supervisors. Tatarstan’s experience during such a responsible period of elections always interests. It is seen in other regions: conflicts, a low activity of voters. One has to learn how to work in a way that people approached elections trusting each other.

By Vasilya Shirshova, Lina Sarimova, Timur Rahkmatullin
Tatarstan