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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 issue at the Friday, ninth session of the Irkutsk Duma. Despite the fact that any deputy, including a self-nominated candidate, could nominate himself as a candidate, the final list of candidates for the post of mayor consisted of only one name. On the eve of the vote, 28 MPs nominated Speaker of Parliament Dmitry Berdnikov for the post of mayor, and on Friday all 33 MPs 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 exclude all kinds of disruptions,” explained Deputy Chairman Alexander Khankhalaev.

The majority of Irkutsk residents learned that the mayoral elections were held from the media. The fact is that amendments to the city's charter, according to which national elections are canceled, and the mayor must be elected by deputies and from among the deputies, were adopted only last Monday. Then 31 deputies voted for the changes, only the communist Vitaly Matviychuk spoke out against, calling the amendments "an attack on democracy", another deputy, from the Civic Platform party, abstained. “The mayor should be chosen by the people, and the abolition of direct elections tramples the last sprouts of political freedom,” said Vladimir Matienko, deputy of the Legislative Assembly and head of the “GP” faction. 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. “In the September elections to the Duma, there was a minimum turnout of 19%, because then people did not yet know that the mayor would be elected from among the deputies, so there is no need to talk about the will of citizens,” Mr. Matienko told EastRussia correspondent. "The new mayor is just a pocket assistant to the governor."

In accordance with the amendments, from now on "the mayor of the city will be elected from among the deputies for a period of five years," and "candidates for the post of mayor are entitled to nominate the Duma deputies, including through self-nomination." On voting day, candidates are listed in alphabetical order, and the very first candidate, for whom 2/3 of the number of deputies will vote, becomes the winner - no further voting is carried out on the list. If no one gets the required number of votes, the procedure is repeated. "By and large, the" alphabetic "detail does not matter: the deputies know in advance who will be on the final list, and for whom they will vote," - said Alexey Mazur, an analyst at the Internet portal, in an interview with EastRussia.

The new model of elections 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. It was introduced by the governor of the region Sergey Eroshchenko. "The governor made a decision that the heads of municipalities, as well as all representative bodies of local self-government are elected by the population in direct elections," the press service of the regional government said then.

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.

“Management models have changed several times - most likely, this is caused by a bureaucratic failure,” says the Irkutsk political scientist and historian Sergei Shmidt. “Apparently, intermediate decisions were made at the regional level, and the final one - in Moscow, taking into account the capriciousness of the Irkutsk voter. It is customary to listen to Moscow. " “It is more convenient when the mayor is alone, because under the“ two-headed ”scheme, the mayor and the city manager rarely get along, and internal conflicts arise, and the residents do not understand who to ask from,” explains Alexey Mazur.

Dmitry Berdnikov is a newcomer to the political arena. Before he entered the Duma last year and became its speaker, having received just under a thousand votes from his constituency, he was known as the owner of the Irkutsk entertainment center "Ladoga" and as the son of Albina Kovaleva, the former prosecutor of the city and current adviser to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation ... According to the curriculum vitae on the official portal of Irkutsk, Mr. Berdnikov was born in 1966, graduated from the Faculty of Special Construction Works of the Irkutsk Polytechnic Institute, where he qualified as a civil engineer, and also "mastered the professions of a bricklayer, concrete worker and carpenter." After graduating from the university in 1988, the future mayor was sent to the state trust "Vostoksantekhmontazh", where he rose to the rank of chief engineer of the installation department. From 1991 to 1993, Mr. Berdnikov was the director of the Baikalinterplast plant, and in 2001 he received a second degree in jurisprudence, and in 2006, “together with like-minded people, he created a socially oriented complex“ 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 (SVR) of the Russian Federation.

“For all the 62 years that I have lived in Irkutsk, I have never heard of Dmitry Berdnikov until the Duma elections,” Mr. Matienko is surprised. Sergei Schmidt also called the political inexperience of the new mayor an alarming moment: “You cannot run a city as a business system, and business skills are not always converted into competent political decisions.” However, the political scientist sees advantages in the current situation. “Dmitry Berdnikov is a new person, and residents do not pin any hopes on him, he will not disappoint them, because they are not fascinated,” Mr. Schmidt argues in a conversation with an EastRussia correspondent. "He can operate without the pressure of commitment, without the lead load of hope that usually rests with a mayor elected by direct vote." In addition, according to the expert, the agreed mayor will benefit the Irkutsk residents, because the absence of a conflict with the higher authorities can replenish the city budget. “The previous mayor Viktor Kondrashov (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) was elected by the residents, far ahead of the candidate from the ruling party, and despite the fact that after the election he moved to United Russia, he never became his own for the governor, and Irkutsk did not participate in his time neither federal nor regional state programs - perhaps now this will change, "the political scientist hopes.

State Duma deputy from the Irkutsk region Sergey Ten believes that Berdnikov will become an effective mayor. “He directly supervised production and was engaged in construction, and, being a deputy, plunged into the problems of all areas of city life: kindergartens, schools, healthcare,” Mr. Ten told local media. He also hopes that under the new mayor, the efforts of the city and regional authorities will unite: "The city and the region will be consolidated."

Dmitry Berdnikov himself emphasized the establishment of closer ties with regional and federal authorities in his election speech to the deputies. 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 improve the situation with urban public transport. The pace of housing construction, he said, will increase, and to inflatable development, Mr. Berdnikov said a resolute "no".

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 is no particular success, then he will be remembered how he was elected.” According to the political scientist, there were attempts to oppose the cancellation of direct elections in Irkutsk, but not large-scale - “none of the well-known politicians openly climbed." “There were suggestions that representatives of the Irkutsk construction business, who had a conflict with the governor, would take part in the campaign against the abolition of direct elections, but they did not materialize,” said Sergei Schmidt. Experts agree that it is too early to talk about the political style, management principles and prospects of the new mayor - we must wait until he names the members of his team, but for now, 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 amendments to the federal law "On the General Principles of Organization of Local Self-Government in the Russian Federation." Among other things, the amendments offered the regions within six months to choose one of four models for the formation of local authorities. It was possible to preserve direct elections, but there was also an opportunity to switch to a two-tier model, when the population elects district dumas, and these, in turn, form the city duma, which elects the mayor and participates in the appointment of the city manager.

According to the newspaper "RBK", now direct elections have remained only in 14 administrative centers out of 80, while Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sevastopol do not count, because they are federal cities, and their mayors, respectively, are considered governors; there are no capitals in the Moscow and Leningrad regions. In the last year alone, 22 regions refused direct elections. Political analysts believe that things will not come to a total abolition of direct elections throughout the country. “On the one hand, it is profitable for the authorities to appoint their own people, but often there is simply no one to appoint, and then it would be more logical to keep direct elections so as not to take responsibility, and one could always say“ they chose themselves - they are to blame, ”notes Alexey Mazur.

The inauguration of Dmitry Berdnikov took place on Saturday at the Irkutsk Regional Drama Theater. N.P. Okhlopkova. The regional governor, honorary residents of Irkutsk and veterans congratulated the mayor. The mayor himself promised to "work, work and work again." The festive atmosphere was spoiled only by the first secretary of the Pravoberezhny district committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Andrei Kalinkin - according to the news agency "Baikal24", he met the guests of the celebration with a poster "Why do Irkutsk residents need an illegitimate mayor?"

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