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Shadow of elections

Irkutsk elected new mayor

Shadow of elections

On Friday in Irkutsk elections of the mayor took place. The deputies took less than 15 minutes to unanimously elect Dmitry Berdnikov - in the list of candidates he was the only one. The new mayor has already made his first promises, and experts believe that he is in a winning position: the mayor will not disappoint the Irkutsk people, because no one expects from him.

The election of the mayor was the first question on Friday, the ninth meeting of the Irkutsk Duma. Despite the fact that any deputy, including a self-promoted candidate, could nominate his candidacy, the final list of candidates for the post of mayor consisted of only one name. On the eve of the vote, 28 deputies nominated Dmitry Berdnikov for the post of mayor of the Parliament’s Speaker, and on Friday all of the 33 attendees present at the meeting gave him their votes. They chose the old-fashioned way - by raising their hands, and not using an electronic system. "To eliminate all kinds of failures," explained the deputy chairman, Alexander Khankhalayev.

The fact that the mayoral elections have passed, the majority of Irkutskians learned from the media. The fact is that the amendments to the city charter, according to which the national elections are canceled, and the mayor should be elected by deputies and from among the deputies, were adopted only last Monday. Then the 31 MP voted for the changes, only communist Vitaly Matviychuk spoke out against it, calling the amendments "an attack on democracy," another MP from the Civic Platform party abstained. "The mayor must choose the people, and the cancellation of direct elections tramples on the last sprouts of political freedom," believes the deputy of the Legislative Assembly and the head of the faction "GP" Vladimir Matienko. According to him, the past elections reflect the "abnormal" political system of the country and have nothing to do with the interests of the Irkutsk people. "At the September elections to the Duma, there was a minimum turnout of 19%, because then people still did not know that the mayor would be elected from among the deputies, so people can not speak about the will of the people," Matienko told EastRussia. "The new mayor is just a pocket assistant to the governor."

In accordance with the amended amendments, henceforth "the mayor of the city will be elected from among the deputies for a term of five years," and "candidates for the post of mayor are entitled to nominate Duma deputies, including through self-nomination." On the voting day, candidates are listed alphabetically, and the first bidder for whom 2 / 3 votes from the number of deputies becomes the winner - no further voting on the list is made. If no one has scored the required number of votes, the procedure is repeated. "By and large, the" alphabetical "detail does not matter: the deputies know in advance who will be on the final list, and who they will vote for," the analyst of the Internet portal "Taiga.info" Aleksey Mazur said in an interview with EastRussia.

The new election model in Irkutsk was developed quickly, but not immediately. Back in May last year, the Legislative Assembly of the Irkutsk Region approved a law according to which direct elections of mayors and deputies in municipalities are preserved. He was introduced by the governor of the region Sergey Eroshchenko "The governor decided that the heads of municipalities, as well as all representative bodies of local self-government are elected by the people in direct elections," the regional government’s press service said.

However, in December the concept changed - the deputy Edinoross Andrey Labygin introduced a draft law in the Legislative Assembly, which supposes the cancellation of direct elections and the division of the mayor's functionality into a politician and a city manager who would assume the economic management of the city. Changes without special battles were promptly adopted by deputies in three readings. But almost immediately, in February, the Legislative Assembly considered the new amendments introduced by the deputy from the LDPR Oleg Kuznetsov. He suggested leaving one mayor in the city, but he should still be elected from among the deputies. The draft was also approved by the Legislative Assembly.

"Administrative models have changed several times - most likely this is caused by a bureaucratic failure," believes Irkutsk political scientist and historian Sergei Schmidt. "Apparently, interim decisions were made at the regional level, and the final decision was made in Moscow, taking into account the whims of the Irkutsk voter. Moscow is accepted to obey. " "It is more convenient when the mayor is alone, because with the" two-headed "scheme, the mayor and city manager rarely get along, and internal conflicts arise, and the residents do not understand whom to ask," explains Alexey Mazur.

Dmitry Berdnikov is a newcomer to the political arena. Before last year he went to the Duma and became its speaker, having collected a little less than a thousand votes from his district, he was known as the owner of the Irkutsk entertainment center "Ladoga" and as the son of Albina Kovaleva, the former city attorney and current adviser to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation . Judging by the biographical information on the official Irkutsk portal, Mr. Berdnikov was born in 1966 year, he graduated from the faculty of special construction works of the Irkutsk Polytechnic Institute, where he received the qualification of a civil engineer, and also "mastered the profession of a bricklayer, concrete worker and carpenter". After graduation from the university in 1988, the future mayor was sent to the state trust "Vostoksantehmontazh", where he was promoted to the chief engineer of the installation department. From 1991 to 1993, Mr. Berdnikov was the director of the plant "Baikalinterplast", and in 2001, he received a second degree in law, and in 2006, "together with like-minded people created the social complex of Ladoga." According to the Information Agency of the Irkutsk Region Altair, from 1993 to 2006 the official served in the bodies of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation.



"For all the 62 years that I lived in Irkutsk, I have never heard of Dmitri Berdnikov up until the Duma elections," Mr. Matienko marvels. An alarming moment was the political inexperience of the new mayor and Sergei Shmidt: "You can not manage a city as a business system, and business skills are not always converted into competent political decisions." However, the political scientist sees the pluses in the current situation. "Dmitry Berdnikov is a new man, and residents do not associate with him any hopes, he will not disappoint them, because they are not fascinated," Mr. Schmidt argues in a conversation with EastRussia correspondent. "He can work without pressure commitments, without a lead load of hope, which usually lies with the mayor chosen by direct vote." In addition, according to the expert, the coordinated mayor will benefit the Irkutsk people, because the absence of conflict with the higher authorities can replenish the city budget. "The previous mayor, Viktor Kondrashov (CPRF), was elected residents, greatly overtaking the candidate from the party of power, and despite the fact that after the election he moved to United Russia, he never became his own for the governor, and with him Irkutsk did not participate neither in federal, nor in regional state programs - perhaps now this will change, "the political scientist hopes.

State Duma deputy from the Irkutsk region Sergei Ten believes that Berdnikov will become an effective mayor. "He directly supervised the construction and construction, and, being a deputy, plunged into the problems of all areas of the life of the city: kindergartens, schools, public health," - said Mr. Ten local media. He also hopes that under the new mayor, the efforts of the city and regional authorities will be combined: "The city and the region are consolidated."

Dmitry Berdnikov, in his pre-election speech before the deputies, also emphasized the establishment of closer ties with the regional and federal authorities. He noted that now Irkutsk does not use all the resources for its development. In addition, the mayor promised to focus on the construction of social facilities (schools, clinics, kindergartens), deal with bad roads and establish a situation with urban public transport. The pace of housing construction, according to him, will increase, and Mr. Berdnikov said a decisive "no" to the point development.

According to experts, at least the next year the new mayor will work without public criticism. "Now people are concerned about the general economic problems and the situation in Ukraine," explains Mr. Schmidt. "But if in a year there are no special successes, then he will be remembered also how he was elected." According to the political scientist, attempts to resist the cancellation of direct elections in Irkutsk were, but not large-scale ones - "none of the well-known politicians openly benefited". "There were assumptions that representatives of the Irkutsk construction business who have a conflict with the governor will take part in the campaign against the cancellation of direct elections, but they did not materialize," said Sergei Schmidt. Experts agree that now it is too early to talk about the political style, management principles and prospects of the new mayor - he should wait until he calls his team members, but while Mr. Berdnikov keeps their names secret.

Recall that the regions began to massively cancel direct elections after in May 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved changes to the federal law "On the general principles of the organization of local government in Russia." Among other things, the amendments proposed to the regions within six months themselves to choose one of four models for the formation of local authorities. It was possible to maintain direct elections, but there was also the opportunity to move to a two-tier model, when the population elects district dumas, and those in turn form a city duma that elects the mayor and participates in the appointment of the city manager.

According to the newspaper "RBC", now direct elections remained only in 14 administrative centers of 80, while Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sevastopol do not count, because they are federal cities, and their mayors, respectively, are considered governors; in the Moscow and Leningrad regions there are no capitals. Only last year 22 region declined from direct elections. Political analysts believe that until the total cancellation of direct elections in the whole country, the matter still does not reach. "On the one hand, it is advantageous for the authorities to put their people, but often there is simply no one to appoint, and then it would be more logical to keep direct elections in order not to take responsibility, and it was always possible to say" they themselves chose - they are to blame "," notes Alexei Mazur.

Inauguration of Dmitry Berdnikov was held on Saturday in the Irkutsk Regional Drama Theater. N.P. Okhlopkova. The governor of the region, honorable residents of Irkutsk and veterans congratulated the mayor. The mayor himself promised to "work, work and once again work." The festive atmosphere was spoiled only by the first secretary of the Right-Bank District Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Andrey Kalinkin - according to the information of the IA "Baikal24", he greeted the guests with the poster "Why Irkutskians have an illegitimate mayor?".