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Political parties in Russia can boycott the coming Presidential elections

The leaders of Russian Communist Party can boycott the Presidential elections.

This issue will be discussed at the meeting of the Party Central Committee planned for December 25. Leader of the Communists Gennady Zyuganov said the Party can boycott the elections if the results of the Parliamentary elections from December 7 are not re-counted. According to Zyuganov, the Central Electoral Committee is still ignoring the list of the elections violations submitted by the Communists. They conducted parallel counting of 93 percent of the vote bulletins and claim about 60 thousand of the elections records of proceeding have no legal force.

If the decision to boycott the elections is made, it will be the first time in post-Soviet Russia history when Communists do not participate in the elections.

Secretary of Russian Communist Party Central Committee Oleg Kulikov said that the purpose of boycotting the elections can be attempt to reduce the number of the people voted below the 50 percent of the overall electorate – the figure necessary for recognizing the elections valid. Kulikov estimates that 20 percent of the potential voters will boycott the lections along with the Communists.

Communists have two reasons to use such extreme measure: they have no strong opponent to President Putin and they are convinced the results of the elections will be falsified and therefore they see no hope.

Boycotting the elections would be more effective if democratic parties Yabloko and SPS (Union of Rightist Force) join it, Communists believe. According to Director of the Communist Party Information Center Ilia Ponomarev, the democratic parties which lost the Parliamentary elections will hardly select a joint candidate for the Presidency. In this case Communists would willingly elaborate the joint measures on boycotting the elections which will not be fair in any case, Ponomarev said.

SPS and Yabloko right-wing parties are discussing the option of not participating in the Presidential elections

"SPS and Yabloko along with the Communists can boycott the elections of the President in Russia and tell is proponents not to participate in the elections,” one of SPS leaders Irina Khakamada said in the interview for Echo of Moscow radio station.

Other options are possible as well: the rightist parties can have one candidate for the elections, but the probability of this is very low, the rightists may start political campaign against all the other candidates. "In certain extent, boycott means contempt to democratic procedures, because it is impossible to prove in advance that the elections will be conducted with violation of law,” Khakamada said.

According to her, this option can be discussed. Possible boycotting elections can result not only from the disagreement with using the administrative resources of the authorities during the Parliamentary elections, but also with the absence of one candidate for the Presidency within the Communist Party.

Deputy Chairman of Yabloko Party Sergei Mitrokhin said in the interview to Echo of Moscow radio station that Yabloko is considering the two options: to boycott the Presidential elections or to participate in them. The final decision will be made by the Party Congress.

Mitrokhin said that Yabloko counted the Parliamentary elections results and can confirm the information of the Communists that “major falsification was conducted during the Parliamentary Elections.”

According to Mitrokhin, "this fact questions the possibility for Yabloko to participate in the Presidential elections – nobody should play with the card-sharper for the second time".

Mitrokhin does not exclude the possibility of cooperating with the Communists on the issue of boycotting the Presidential elections. He said some form of protesting against the  widespread practice of falsification should be elaborated. "The authorities should realize that they cannot continue following this path and should stop at one point".

The contradictions with the Communist and right-wing parties can prevent establishment of “boycotting coalition”

High-ranking Communist Party members said in the interview to Gazette that the Party Meeting and then Congress are likely to make a decision to participate in the elections. However, this decision will cause for the Communists the problem of absence of the candidate for Presidency. "After losing the Parliamentary elections the Party leader Gennady Zyuganov is not eager to participate in the Presidential elections for the third time”’ the sources in the Communist Party said. “He is likely to have the number of supporters two times less than during the last elections. Is it worth to lose and be ashamed?"

Contradictions aroused within the Communist Party. Ex-deputy speaker of the State Duma Communist Gennady Semigin has already said that he can run for Presidency. However, it is unclear whether the Party can appoint him as an official candidate. Semigin has the reputation of “the Kremlin’s agent in the Communist Party”. On the other hand, Semigin is supported by the second person in the Communist Party – the Party’s “treasurer” Valentin Kuptsov who included Semigin on the list of the nominees for the Parliamentary elections despite the objections of Party leader Gennady Zyuganov.

"The Communists will have a difficult choice: boycotting the elections or chosing the candidate who have no chances to win”, analyst of the Center of Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin told Gazetta. “Boycotting is a gesture of despair. If it does not disorder the Presidential elections, it will cause an absolute collapse for the Communist Party”. Makarkin emphasized that the Communists will not be able to implement the decision to ask their supporters to boycott the elections because this is illegal. Such calls cannot be made through mass media and the Communists can only try to address their supporters in person, which is not proved to be effective.

Central Electoral Committee consider the probability of upsetting the elections to be low

The probability of upsetting the Presidential elections in Russia is extremely low, Chairman of Central Electoral Committee Alexander Veshnyakov said in the interview to RIA Novosti information agency on December 17.

"Those claiming this can make a critical personal mistake", Veshnyakov said. According to him, people making such statements should ask voters. As a rule, they are very active during the Presidential elections despite all the problems of our society.

Boycotting elections is a strong political move

"Refusing to participate in the elections is a strong political move for the Communist Party", said the Head of Merkator group, political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin to Echo of Moscow radio station.

According to him, Zyuganov clearly expressed disappointment with the way the Parliamentary elections had been conducted and he has the reasons to believe that the administrative resource will be widely used during the Presidential elections as well".

"In addition, the Communist Party and Zyuganov have few perspectives in any case: whether the administrative resources will be used or not”, Oreshkin said. “It is not worth participating in the elections and producing worse results every time".

The political scientist believes that "the Communists create a new situation for President Putin by boycotting the elections. If this happens, President Putin will have Vladimir Zhirinovsky his opponent – the prospect not attractive to him".

"Because of using their political technologies, the authorities now have to make some original decisions”, he said. “This time they will have to use the administrative resources not to support the potential winner from within the authorities, but to have the elections conducted, to create the feeling of struggle during the elections for the voters and prove them that there is a sense in the elections.

According to Oreshkin, "The Communist Party hits the authorities into unprotected spot: you created the elections where the results are known in advance, therefore tolerate our boycotting them”.

Source: http://www.newsru.com/russia/17dec2003/kprf.html

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