Staunton, January 23 -- Experts of the Rosbalt Political Club say that the current presidential elections in Russia are the last hurrah of aging political leaders and parties that are not real parties and that the future will almost certainly see the appearance of new parties and the realignment of their support.
But because the current political system does not need parties at least of the usual kind, because Moscow bans parties based on regional, religious, or ethnic grounds, and because the Russian population has not yet had the experience of organizing from below, the exact shape of the future system is far from clear, they say (rosbalt.ru/russia/2018/01/23/1676404.html).
Nikolay Petrov of the Higher School of Economics says that “the systemic parties of Russia are in a crisis, and ‘the presidential elections are the last political review of old leaders and of this entire party system because the replacement of leaders, many of which are over 70, may affect the entire system.”
The LDPR will disappear with its leader; and while the KPRF is less a leader party that Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s, it too is a party based on a leader, even though its candidate for president this time around is not a member of the KPRF, Petrov continues. Just Russia has run out of energy, and the future of United Russia depends on one man and is unclear.
“But the main problem,” he says, “’is connected not so much with the crisis of the parties as will the crisis of the entire political system of the Russian Federation.” There are no projects that can currently organize large numbers of people and “party structures aren’t allocated any role in the political system.”
Until that changes, Petrov concludes, “it is difficult to imagine” how the existing parties could be “transformed into some serious political constructions.”
Stanislav Radkevich, a political analyst at PR-3000, points out that “we live in a very strange country in which formally there are 80 parties but in fact there isn’t a single one.” One might use the term for United Russia but even for that institution, it isn’t entirely appropriate.
Pavel Kudyukin, a political scientist is the Council of the Labor Confederation,” agrees that is hard to talk about parties “in a political system where they aren’t needed.” They simply don’t have any chance to play “their normal political function.” The parliamentary opposition doesn’t even play the role minor parties did in Soviet bloc countries.
Vitaly Kamyshev, a Moscow political analysis, says that the powers that be in Russia do not see any crisis in the party system but that doesn’t mean that they will be able to avoid “the politicization of social movements” given that 20 million people are hungry. And that will be true even if the authorities resist because people will ultimately act out of despair.
And Nikolay Mironov of the Moscow Center of Economic and Political Reforms says that “the potential of the social movement was, is and always will be because in the population there are many active people concerned with social problems and life in the country as a whole.”
“When representatives of social movements say that they don’t want to be politicized, this means that they don’t want to support the current political players. But this doesn’t mean that they in general won’t advance any political demands. They are ready to unite,” but in the current system, nothing like becoming parties is yet possible.
In an article for Kavkazr.com, analyst Valery Dzutsati describes how the amount of support the existing parties have varies widely among the federal subjects of the North Caucasus in order to pose the question “Who will be able to replace ‘United Russia’” in that region? (kavkazr.com/a/partiynyi-rasklad/28983108.html).
“It is well known,” he continues, that in Russia both parties organized on an ethnic or a religious basis are prohibited as are structures formed according to religion.” Until those bans are lifted, when people leave one of the parties, they will nonetheless have to find a place in another all-Russian party, something that will limit popular support.
“Were United Russia suddenly to disappear from the political arena, along with Jus Russia, then its place would be occupied by functionaries from the KPRF, the LDPR and possibly some new organizations. But if regional parties were permitted, then the political palette undoubtedly would become significantly more diverse.”
In commenting on Dzutsati’s observation, the After Empire portal says that legalizilng regional parties would not simply make the political spectrum more diverse. “It would change in a significant way the ENTIRE Russian policy” because then “local social forces would not need to fit themselves under this or that imperial party” (afterempire.info/2018/01/23/regional-parties/).
“They would establish their own parties which undoubtedly would win in free elections in regional parliaments,” After Empire says. “But this would mean the end of the empire and the establishment of a regional federation. And that is what the Kremlin fears most of all.”