Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 122

Meeting with leaders of Russia’s regions yesterday, Boris Yeltsin urged them to do everything possible to get voters to the polls next week. "Turnout is the most important question in this round," the president said. (Interfax, June 26) The Yeltsin camp worried that voter apathy and fatigue, and the approaching holiday season, might erode the Yeltsin vote. Yeltsin, who finished a mere three percentage points ahead of Communist challenger Gennady Zyuganov in the first round, needs a high turnout. "Turnout of under 60 percent is a dangerous threshold below which a Zyuganov victory would be possible," a top Yeltsin campaigner, Vyacheslav Nikonov, has warned. (NTV, June 25)

The date of the runoff was set for July 3 in order to avoid a situation where many voters would be away from home and unable to vote. But it was said at yesterday’s meeting that some factory directors have told their workers they can take July 4 and 5 off too, which could encourage people to leave home on a mini-vacations and to not vote. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov urged local leaders to entice elderly voters to the polls with gifts and issued a veiled threat that leaders who failed to get out the vote could risk losing their own jobs. (Financial Times, June 27)

Interviewed on NTV on June 26, Igor Bunin, director of Moscow’s Center of Political Technology, underlined that turnout is the key to next week’s election. He said Zyuganov had reached his ceiling June 16 and has no real chance of increasing his share of the vote in the July 3 runoff. Yeltsin, by contrast, stands to gain as much as 80 percent of the votes of those who voted for Yavlinsky on June 16, if Yavlinsky calls on his voters to switch their support, and 60 percent even if Yavlinsky makes no such move. But, Bunin said, voter apathy could still cause Yeltsin’s defeat. He said that, whereas 100 percent of Zyuganov’s supporters turned out on June 16 and can be relied upon to do so again on July 3, only 75 percent of Yeltsin’s supporters turned out on June 16 and even fewer may vote on July 3, now that the novelty of the process has worn off. Bunin estimated that a turnout of 64 percent will guarantee a Yeltsin victory, but that a turnout of 62 percent may mean a Zyuganov victory.

Zyuganov Files Campaign Complaint.