Thursday, October 4, 2018

Does the LDPR have a Future without Zhirinovsky?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 4 – For more than a quarter of a century, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia has been little more than an extension of its leader, the flamboyant Vladimir Zhirinovsky. But now he is heading into retirement, and the LDPR is focusing on rebranding itself in order to have a future, Stanislav Zakharkin of the URA news agency says.

            Zhirinovsky is provoking this change both by his hints that he will soon retire and by his insistence that LDPR should now stand for the Legendary Power Party of Russia. He is also overseeing essential changes in the structure of the party, replacing the collective leadership that has existed mostly on paper with a general secretary (

            “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.

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