“However,” Zakharkin says, “the chief innovation will be the appearance of eight leading posts which will form the Politburo of the party,” something that Zhirinovsky himself says will cause the political organization to behave in a more “collegial” fashion – but presumably without Zhirinovsky calling all or at least most of the shots.
Pavel Salin, the head of the Center for Political Research of Moscow’s Finance University, says that the 2018 presidential elections were clearly Zhiriinovsky’s last. He is preparing for his departure and thus is focused less on some possible electoral triumph for himself than on the future of the LDPR.
But Sallin says that he is far from certain that the party can survive Zhirinovsky’s departure. Others agree, adding that the transition will tell the tale. Konstantin Kalachev of Moscow’s Political Experts Group says the LDPR will be a party in a true sense only if it can survive its founder’s departure; but whether it can remains to be seen.
Kalachev does say that the party can rely on a large number of people who support its programs and not just Zhirinovsky. That is because as Ilya Grahsenkov of the Center for the Development of Regional Politics says, the LDPR “does not have such a clearly expressed personalist character” as does the KPRF.