Staunton, February 21 – Vladimir Putin’s installation of technocrats as governors in place of politicians is likely to have an impact on the country’s systemic parties, leading to their de-politicization as well by means of the replacement of the aging politicians who head them now by younger pragmatic functionaries, according to Tatyana Stanovaya.
The Carnegie Moscow Center expert says that these parties are already integrated into Putin’s power vertical and so in the near future, they too are likely to be subject to the same shifts that are already occurring among the governors. Indeed, she says, the behavior of the parties in the Duma already points in that direction (carnegie.ru/commentary/?fa=68067).
The Duma today already functions like “one large United Russia fraction,” with the KPRF being the left wing, the LDPR being the national patriotic one, and Just Russia being a reflection of the past. Such an arrangement thus corresponds in the parliament to the idea of the irreplaceability of Putin himself.
What it means for the 2018 election, Stanovaya says is that there will appear four and possibly even five “Putins” – “the main Putin,” “the Putin communist,” “the Putin nationalist,” and “the Putin socialist.” And for good measure and to appeal to one sliver of the electorate, “a market oriented Putin.”
If that is how “political” life is going to be arranged, the scholar says, it doesn’t really matter whether one has a real politician at the head of any party. Indeed, a younger and more pragmatic functionary will do just fine – and perhaps even better when they attend meetings in the Presidential Administration.
If the system has enough resources, it may be able to last for years, being a simulacrum of real politics without any political competition. The only real problem is that the citizenry will see no reason to take part in this charade and there may emerge an insurgency from outside seeking the changes this unpolitical arrangement would seem to preclude.