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Russia's regional elections pose serious test for pro-Kremlin party

September 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Russians are casting votes to pick regional legislators and officials in an election seen as a serious test for the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. About 160,000 candidates are seeking seats in local parliaments and 20 regions are electing a new governor, according to the Central Elections Committee.

Moscow (CNN)Russians are casting votes to pick regional legislators and officials in an election seen as a serious test for the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

The "Smart Voting" strategy promoted by Navalny urges Russians to vote tactically in support of a single candidate on any ballot most capable of unseating an incumbent from United Russia.

Navalny unveiled "Smart Voting" during local elections in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2018, costing United Russia dozens of seats in regional bodies.

This is the first election Russia has held since the vote on controversial constitutional amendments that gave Putin grounds to stay in power until 2036.

The vote could turn into a popularity test for the ruling pro-Putin United Russia party in a year that has seen a controversial pandemic response from Russian regional leaders, record-low approval ratings for Putin, and unrest in some regions over pressing local issues such as the arrest of popular governor Sergey Furgal in the far-eastern city of Khabarovsk.

Furgal, often referred to locally as "the people's governor," beat a Kremlin-backed candidate from the ruling United Russia party in the 2018 local elections in a surprising single round.

The results of this vote could serve as a bellwether for the key 2021 elections to the State Duma, Russia's lower house of the parliament, where United Russia controls the majority of the seats.

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