Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with the United Russia party leadership
15 march 2011
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Good afternoon, colleagues,
As you know, on March 13 elections for various levels of government were held in more than 70 Russian regions, including 12 constituent entities. United Russia has won over 68% of the seats in regional legislatures – 375 out of 547.
I’d like to touch on something I mentioned yesterday: during similar elections in 2007 (2007 was a very successful year for the economy, before the world financial and economic crisis that affected our country) average general support was 46%. Yesterday I said that at current elections it was 46.2%. I was mistaken. In fact, some additional calculations showed that average support this year was over 49%.
What does this mean? It means that despite the crisis, despite the fact that many people had to deal with the consequences of the crisis – such as lower wages, job cuts, and similar things people are tired of – they nevertheless appreciate the efforts of the authorities to overcome the crisis, and they can see that things are getting better. That’s the first thing.
Second, it means that United Russia now has its own electorate. And we should value it. We must be grateful to the people who support United Russia. United Russia must be grateful to those who came to the polling station and voted for you.
What does it mean to be grateful to voters? It means that United Russia should value every mandate it receives from voters to help solve people’s problems. These were municipal and regional elections. What problems are people facing locally? We are well aware of these problems. They have to do with housing and utilities prices, healthcare and medical service, the availability of kindergartens and so on and so forth. A whole ocean of problems. And each official elected from United Russia lists must be aware of his or her responsibility and be accountable to the voters.
I hope very much that there is a strong sense of accountability both in the party’s governing bodies and locally, and that it leads to practical solutions of the problems I’ve mentioned and to the decisions people expect from us.
Now I would like to hear from you. Mr Gryzlov (turning to Boris Gryzlov, State Duma speaker), please.
Boris Gryzlov: Mr Putin, the recent elections showed that there is a great deal of support for United Russia among the voters. We are grateful to the voters. This time we won 700,000 more votes than in the similar elections in 2006-2007. This is serious support.
In the 12 constituent entities of the Russian Federation where elections to legislatures were held, and even in the regions where our party was not very popular, support has grown nevertheless. For example, in Kaliningrad the increase was 30,000 votes, in the Komi Republic – 70,000.
We work consistently to maintain this level of support. Many of the opposition parties work from election to election. They start their campaigns, say, six months before the elections. We, as the majority party in the State Duma, cannot afford to do this. We work on a regular basis. Although the elections were held just this past Sunday, we are already discussing how to carry out the mandate we received from the voters this time.
We hold “mini-congresses” and inter-regional party conferences, which you attend, during which we discuss regional projects. These projects are not just based on the initiative of regional leaders; they also come from voter mandates. Actually, our election campaign was based on completing projects initiated between the elections. They have been successfully completed. Now that five of these “mini-congresses” have been held (with three remaining), the time has come to review the work done on the projects accepted at our first “mini-congress” in the Siberian Federal District. We have drawn up a plan for the conference. It will be a video conference, during which we will discuss the status of all those projects. And this is how we will conduct the remaining conferences.
We see the results of Sunday’s elections as the beginning of the State Duma election campaign. Now we must take a look at what did not work in the last election campaign. In some regions, we saw that the local elites did not always contribute to our common cause. Some regional administrators attempted to take advantage of the situation. In these regions, the result was not as good as it could have been, although it was not bad at all. We think the situation requires serious attention, and that this issue should be raised at the party’s Supreme Council.
Vladimir Putin: I was just thinking how it is easier for opposition parties, because they are free from the burden of actually governing. Rather, their function is to criticise the governing party. The governing party must solve problems, while the opposition is there to criticise the leading political force for what it is doing and how, and to propose alternatives. This is normal. It’s no use getting angry or swearing at anybody. Just do your job as best you can. When elections are approaching in the country or a region, we often hear (now more and more often) about election strategies. The best election strategy for a leading political party is to get things done. This is what I’m asking of you.