President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, let me wish you welcome here today.
The hard political work and the single voting day are behind us now. In this respect, let me repeat what many others have already noted, namely, that this was the biggest election campaign in Russia’s history. People in nearly every region elected their regional and municipal representatives. Elections were held too in Crimea and Sevastopol.
The biggest result is that society has shown how it can rally and unite in the face of various challenges. The voters gave their support to precisely the political parties that are ready to stand up for our national interests and seek to develop and strengthen our country.
The elections took place properly and professionally, and in this respect I want to thank everyone who was involved in their organisation – members of the election commissions, representatives of the political parties, and independent observers. Of course I also want to congratulate all of you on your success. You represent more than a third of the total corps of regional governors.
You won in a competitive and difficult battle. The competition was particularly fierce in some regions. This intense competition has helped to make our citizens more politically active. It is no coincidence that voter turnout, especially in the gubernatorial elections, was higher than it was last year.
The main point I want to make though is that it is not the victory itself that is important but the trust that citizens place in the electoral system and in election results. Our goal is for elections to be open and competitive and to take place in full accordance with the letter and spirit of the law.
Of course we will continue putting in place the conditions needed for parties and politicians representing various views to compete for the right to work in the government bodies at various levels. I note that in these elections that just took place, although United Russia won a confident victory, the other parliamentary parties and some non-parliamentary parties also achieved good results.
Colleagues, you have won victory through direct ballot. This kind of broad popular support is certainly a great honour but it is also a huge responsibility. What’s more, to be really honest, let me say to everyone here and to everyone who won but who is not present here today that these results came on the wave of our society’s consolidation and desire to unite in the face of the various threats and challenges to Russia today.
Whether at municipal or regional level however, people are looking to the authorities not for global solutions, but for solutions to their practical problems. People want to see improvement in their lives and working conditions, higher quality of service and a better situation in the housing and utilities sector, proper order in finances, and improvements in the social sector, healthcare and education.
No one can rest on their laurels after the election. On the contrary, you need to remember that people have placed a lot of trust in you and you now need to return this trust through your effective work in office. You need to prove yourselves worthy of this trust, not ride on past achievements, but carry out the obligations placed upon you, achieve positive change and show people clear, practical results. Let me add too that people’s demands with regard to the authorities’ performance, the situation in the social sector, and living standards in their specific regions and municipalities will undoubtedly only grow.
You have big tasks ahead and a difficult situation in which to work, but you cannot use difficult circumstances as an excuse. We need to unite all constructive forces around our common goals. This is certainly the only right way forward. We need to see a broad-based development coalition in every region.
The municipal level of power is becoming more important. It is at this level that people can prove their ability and gain public, management and economic experience. In many countries with well-developed party systems novice politicians gain experience at the municipal level first. We are seeing this same process in Russia too now.
You all went through the procedure of collecting municipal deputies’ signatures and securing their support. For any serious politician, having the municipalities’ support is the guarantee of effective cooperation and is a kind of ‘pass’ that opens the way to taking part in the gubernatorial campaign. I ask you to stay in constant dialogue with the local authorities and work together in consolidated fashion.
Overall, this election campaign has shown that both at the regional and local level, we see competent professionals who know how to reach their goals come into politics. I am sure that these people should become part of your teams. I am referring above all to municipal officials.
Let me congratulate you once more on your election victory and wish you success in your subsequent practical work.