Party building is accelerating its engine in Russia. In addition to social and political movements, units and groups were reorganized to the People’s Party, Yabloko party, and others just after the Law about Parties came into effect, and some new parties appeared. The question is about the Liberal Russia party and about the “Constitutional Party of the Russian Federation” (CPRF). Apropos, the latter could have serious juridical problems with the communits because it has the same abbreviation as the Communist Party. However, the new parties cannot be regarded as very serious rivals, especially taking into account that little time remains until the election, so they hardly will be able to attract so much attention of the people and to enter into the State Duma. However, the veterans also should not relax: the electorate’s sympathies are changeable. For example, let us remember the Our House – Russia party, which also was supported by the president did not managed to get over the 5-percent barrier and to enter into the State Duma. As a result, the party ceased to exist. In the West, such a kind of party building is a matter of the remote past. The number of parties really participating in political life is two to four. These political parties could be divided into two categories: parties that really take part in elections (for example democrats and republicans in the US) and parties created to realize some interests (social, economical, ecological, etc.).
The difference between a real political party and an ersatz party is that a real party has a clear political doctrine; recognizable vertical structure; party discipline; and, of course membership fees. For self-preservation, a political party should not enter into any coalitions, because a coalition could finally cause loss of the party’s control.
Look how this corresponds with Russian reality. The pro-president Unity and Fatherland parties exist only thanks to administrative resources. These parties do not have any clear ideology, while its main task is to support the President’s course whether it is good or bad. Moreover, the parties intend to propose their candidate for the president; therefore, they violate one of the main postulates of a political party: the fight for power. Of course, one should notice that such a party does not even need to fight at all: it already possesses power, and if President Putin agrees to be the head of the party, it even should not search for a president candidacy. Nothing of the kind! It is not as simple as it looks. There are some discords between regional and federal elite that cannot be got over through any unifying congresses. Sooner or later, these discords will appear. So any sensible person, especially the Russian President, will not agree to be this megalomonster’s leader.
Now, about the Right and about liberals. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Yabloko party, and the Union of Right Forces found their place in Russian policy. While only the Union of Right Forces more or less corresponds with the name of political party, though, recently, it also goes along with the Kremlin’s policy. This is probably connected with scandals inside the party, but maybe the party regards iit as unreasonable to go against the course when some of its program's are being realized.
The Yabloko party that has always opposed the authorities, and declared after its latest congress that it stopped criticizing the government and the president. This is probably because the party’s electorate is less and less, so the party might find itself out of the State Duma. However, staunch Yabloko members will hardly approve of their leader’s latest passage. The LDPR also seems to have fallen in love with the government. Vladimir Zhirinovski has always been known for his angry outbursts against his opponents in the State Duma; recently, they even addressed to the Ethics Committee, protesting against insults to the authorities.
Now, at the party’s recent congress, a decision was taken to exclude four points from programme documents: anti-American, anti-NATO, anti-Semitism, and anti-feminism.
On the whole, the authorities’ support is more important now for parties than their ideological or program principles. All the more, they do not need these principles to remain politically alive. Yes, party building in the Western way yet to be introduced to Russia.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/12/24/35087.html