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AnalysisElectoral StandardsMoscow Oblast05 March 2024, 18:46
Collage: Ksenia Telmanova

While the public's attention is focused on the presidential elections in March, the administrative structures of the Moscow Region are preparing the ground for local elections and rewriting the charters of city districts.

In September, the next Council of Deputies elections will be held in 24 municipalities of the Moscow Region. These are important elections in which at least every third resident of the region has the right to vote. In some cities, party lists have been abandoned altogether, with multi-mandate electoral districts being presented as an alternative.

Why it matters

The issue of party subjectivity in the Moscow Region deserves a separate discussion. Currently, political independence from the local administration is a choice made by a minority of party branches. However, the degree of freedom for party cells is highest in municipal elections. Candidates are closer to the people, budgets are smaller, logistics are simpler, and challenging the local administration is not the same as going against the region. Therefore, if there is intrigue in the region, it is more likely to happen in the local elections.

The first-past-the-post system contributes to the reduction of party representation. Its main disadvantage is that only voters who vote for the winning candidate get their representative. It can happen that a political force that has won a significant share of the electorate's votes is still left without a mandate. For the Moscow Region, such changes mean a significant complication of political competition for all parties except United Russia. With party lists, parliamentary parties automatically have a good chance of getting a mandate by participating in elections. However, it is not an easy task to enforce a struggle in majority districts. The administrative resources and the system of falsifications are ready to work for the candidates of the ruling party.

How the situation is changing in the cities of the Moscow Region

The changes in the region's electoral system are systematic and clearly proceed along regional lines. Various sources link them directly to the deputy head of the Moscow Region government, Maria Nagornaya. This information is quite credible, especially if one recalls the recent article in "Novaya Vkladka" entitled "The submarine people have raised their heads! The material is based on an audio recording of Nagornaya's meeting with the administrative election headquarters in Krasnogorsk and reveals many interesting details about the electoral reality in the Moscow region.

The table below shows the changes over the past year and a half. In all cases, the mixed (in the case of Korolev, proportional) system has been replaced by the majority system.


Old System

New System



10 in a single-mandate district + 15 single-mandate districts

5 five-mandate districts

Hearings scheduled for 25.11.23. No information since then


10 in a single-mandate district + 10 single-mandate districts

4 five-mandate districts



10 in a single-mandate district + 15 in multi-mandate districts

5 five-mandate districts

Public hearings conducted


13 in a single-mandate district + 12 single-mandate districts

5 five-mandate districts



10 in a single-mandate district + 10 single-mandate districts

5 districts with 4 mandates each



30 in a single-mandate district

6 districts with 5 mandates each

Public hearings conducted


13 in a single-mandate district + 12 single-mandate districts

5 five-mandate districts



10 in a single-mandate district + 15 single-mandate districts

5 five-mandate districts

Hearings scheduled. No information since then


10 in a single-mandate district + 20 single-mandate districts

6 five-mandate districts



10 in a single-mandate district + 3 five-mandate districts

5 five-mandate districts


It is worth noting the changes in the majority districts themselves. In seven out of ten cities, mandates were previously divided into single-mandate districts. Such segmentation implies smaller constituencies and, consequently, a lower number of votes needed for election. With the introduction of four- and five-mandate districts, the electoral threshold will increase 2-3 times, depending on the city.

In theory, it is possible to win in such districts against administrative pressure. In practice, it is an insurmountable task for most local party branches. Apart from the initial inequality, the lack of budget and personnel will also play a role. The abolition of party lists essentially forces urban branches to reach agreements with the local administration.

It is important to note that the abolition of party lists indirectly affects the rights of other political entities, the realization of which is tied to the proportional system. For non-parliamentary parties, the list mandate is also an opportunity to appoint a quota of members to district commissions and to participate in regional elections without collecting signatures. By the next regional elections, the right to run without collecting signatures may be lost by 5 of the 11 parties represented in the region: "Rodina", “Party of Growth” (original: "Partiia Rosta”), "Yabloko", Russian Ecological Party "The Greens" (original: "Zelenyie") and "Communists of Russia". Concerns may also arise about the efforts of administrative political technologists - one must be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

How Changes are Introduced

Let's look at the procedural aspect of the matter. The electoral system transformation is done by adopting amendments to the Charter of the Municipality. The whole process can be divided into three stages:

  • Adoption by the Council of Deputies of a draft resolution to amend the Charter.
  • Holding of public hearings on the draft resolution.
  • Adoption by the Council of Deputies of a resolution to amend the Charter by a qualified majority of 2/3 of the votes from the total number of seats.

At each of these stages there were peculiarities. For example, in Kashira, the initiative to abolish party lists was proposed as early as the summer of 2022, but the draft resolution could not be adopted due to the prosecutor's protest. He thought that a qualified majority was also necessary for the adoption of the draft resolution on amendments to the Charter.

In Mytishchi, they didn't just adopt amendments, but essentially a new Charter, slightly changing the structure of the document. It's noteworthy that an anachronism crept into the draft resolution - it mentioned the right of deputies elected as part of a list of candidates to form factions. Such an oxymoron, where there is no subject, but there are rights. In the final version, this error was corrected and the concept of factions was also excluded from the Charter, just to be on the safe side.

Information about public hearings from open sources is scarce. An exception is Zhukovsky, where local journalists serve as sources. According to the publication, the presence of employees of budget organizations was ensured, the real lobbyists of the amendments remained hidden, and none of the deputies could give a clear answer to the question of the city resident about the necessity of such changes. The final document of the public hearings recorded the presence of 54 participants. Two of them objected to the exclusion of changes in the electoral system from the project, while seven were in favor of adopting the project without changes.

The adoption of amendments by a qualified majority can hardly be called a challenge. Problems could have arisen in Kashira, where deputies from the CPRF, Spravedlivaya Rossiia, and Yabloko opposed the amendments. However, levers of influence were found - on the day of the session two deputies suddenly changed their positions. Currently, the Yabloko deputy is challenging the Council's decision in court, citing procedural violations in its adoption.

Shchyolkovo could have been problematic, where in 2019 the majority of seats were won by the Communists, and the secretary of the local city committee, Elena Mokrinskaya, became the head of the Council of Deputies. However, in September 2021, Mokrinskaya was elected to the regional Duma on the party list and gave up her powers. A few months later, several CPRF deputies made a clear demarche during the vote on the approval of the General Plan, and in 2022 they joined United Russia. Thus, a qualified majority for changing the Charter was achieved.

The last stronghold in the fight for the party lists could be Dolgoprudny, where the Spravedlivaya Rossiia faction is led by Boris Nadezhdin. The session will be held on February 28.

Instead of conclusions

The trend to abandon the mixed system in favor of larger multi-mandate districts is nothing but a cause for concern. It affects the efficiency of party work during the election campaign and may lead to a reduction of party diversity in local councils and regional elections. Together with the idea of consolidating municipalities, which has been alive in the Moscow region for 10 years, these changes contribute to strengthening the vertical of regional power.

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