Alexey Navalny’s Smart Voting
Smart Votingis a project of Russian opposition figureAlexei Navalny, created as a system to counter candidates from the pro-government United Russia party in elections. The politician has repeatedly referred to abuses and falsifications, which led United Russia to victory in every election, despite their generally poor results.
The strategy is based on Navalny’s famous statement voiced back in 2011 before the Duma elections: “Any party except United Russia.” He suggested that Russians choose the most promising opposition candidate before voting and vote for them.
In this way, according to Mr. Navalny, it is possible to show the true state of affairs in Russian politics and deprive the United Russia party of its long-standing monopoly on votes.
How It Works
On the website created for the implementation of the strategy, all interested citizens of the Russian Federation are invited to register. To do so, they are required to specify their:
- Email address
- Place of residence - settlement, house, and apartment number
All user data is processed, and those who register are sent an email telling them which candidate to vote for in their region.
Navalny insists that personal ideological preferences should play no role here: it is much more important to take the victory away from United Russia.
Having received such a “letter of instruction,” a voter must go to the polling station and mark the specified candidate on the ballot. According to Navalny’s calculations, this approach is expected to take away a significant number of votes from the United Russia party.
Experience in Strategy Implementation
The concept was tested twice - in the 2019 and 2020 elections. The new voting system was used by opposition-minded voters in thirty-one regions of Russia.
The results were interesting: a significant number of seats in regional Dumas were won by candidates from the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), the LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia), and a number of other already popular parties.
No less interesting and revealing is the interpretation of the vote count results. None of the opposition parties that took a significant bite out of the Duma pie recognized the merit of the “Navalny option” in their victory.
Thus, the CPRF, which won 13 out of 20 possible mandates from the opposition, said that such a furor is a consequence of the exceptional popularity and political weight of the party.
The LDPR, whose candidate Sergei Furgal decisively won the elections in Khabarovsk Krai, is also in no hurry to recognize the effect of Smart Voting.
Many other politicians, journalists, observers, and political analysts are also cautious about the outcome of the protest movement initiated by Alexei Navalny.
However, there are also very optimistic assessments. For example, in the local elections in Lipetsk, the United Russia candidates used Navalny’s method, but for their own purposes, and won. This gave the oppositionist’s sympathizers the right to argue that the system is quite viable; they just need to keep applying it.
As a result, it cannot be said with certainty that the Smart Voting strategy is an effective tool in the fight against monopoly and abuse of power by the ruling party.
However, there are still some results: this approach takes away up to 7% of votes from the United Russia party - and this is significant. In the elections in the fall of 2021, the project will be launched throughout Russia.