Primaries – a new practice in Russian political process (By Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 22 May “United Russia” political party held primary elections, or primaries around the whole country. Nearly 9 million people chose to participate in this major event, which drew the line under a long and large-scale process launched by the party last year. For the first time in history a Russian political party organized such comprehensive and open to general electorate event. The voters had the opportunity to influence the choice of the “UR” candidates for upcoming parliamentary elections in September.
The primaries held in Russia are a totally unique procedure launched last year, which presented virtually any person with a chance to make the first step in politics. For the first time in Russian history one could participate in an open rating voting. The preparations for the primaries turned out to be a serious challenge not only for the newcomers (approximately 60 percent of candidates), but also for experienced politicians. It is necessary to point out that around 50 current members of the State Duma decided not to participate in the voting.
The most important aspect of the primaries is that every person eligible to vote could come to the polling station and take part in this totally open event. That is the main difference between the primaries in Russia and the US, where only party members and nominated delegates can choose the candidates.
The very idea of primaries in Russia makes the authorities more open and transparent to the public. Every participant could reach out to the voters, get to know them, understand their problems, views and aspirations.
This practice has already received positive public response. According to surveys, more than 80 percent of the population welcome it.
The primaries are just another example of the ongoing search in our political system for best ways of modernization in order to be able to meet the challenges of our time.