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Golos: Lack of Financial Transparency and Competition at Regional Elections

(December 11, 2017)


On December 6, 2017, the Russian President Vladimir Putin officially announced his intention to run for a fourth term at the Presidential Elections of March 18, 2018. The election campaign has now started. But is there a real competition for this office? What resources and financial resources does the opposition have? And what about the transparency of campaign financing?

The Movement “Golos” has recently analysed the financing of the election campaign to the elections of the heads of regions held on September 10, 2017. The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) publishes these two “Golos” reports, which raise general questions about the transparency of election campaign funding and the competitiveness of elections in Russia.

According to the first report, the system of financing election campaigns and political parties in Russia remains opaque. Often, the costs of paying for the services of political consultants, which make up a significant share of the expenses in any major election campaign, remain in the “shadow.” However, according to Russian law, financial violations amounting to more than 10% of the limit of an electoral fund are grounds for cancelation of the election results. Thus, the prevailing practice of concealing a significant share of the expenses of candidates and electoral associations raises questions about the legitimacy of past election results. Read the full report

The second report finds that there was no real competition in the elections. As a detailed assessment of the final financial reports of the candidates shows, the opposition political parties refused to substantially fund the election campaigns of their own candidates for heads of regions. In the absence of resources for their formal competitors to conduct even a semblance of an election campaign, the “administrative candidates” and their headquarters were forced to provide not only organizational support to their “opponents”, but also in some cases directly to engage in attracting financial resources to competitors’ election funds. The financial analysis compels “Golos” to underscore that the participation of “competitors” of elected heads of regions was contractual and “fixed” in nature from the beginning. Read the full report

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