Staunton, June 25 – The Russian political system is increasingly an imitation of the kind of “multi-party democracy” which existed in East Germany and still exists in China and North Korea, a move that many believe reflects Vladimir Putin’s broader aspiration to “transformer Russia into the GDR,” Ivan Preobrazhensky says.
The Moscow commentator reminds that before the end of the Soviet bloc, the political systems in the GDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia had “not only communist or ‘workers’ ruling parties but also allies subordinate to them,” thus giving voters “the illusion of choice” by offering them the chance to vote for “’their own’ party” (rosbalt.ru/russia/2021/06/25/1908499.html).
China and North Korea retain this arrangement even though it attracts little attention, Preobrzhensky continues. In North Korea, for example, 22 of the 687 seats in the Supreme Peoples Assembly are occupied by representatives of the Party of Young Friends of the Heavenly Path.
In these systems, there is one ruling party and a number of smaller parties nominally independent but in fact subordinate to and even controlled by the ruling party. The Russian system under Putin has moved in that direction for some time, and there have been suggestions before of a GDR model. But now, Putin and his regime have taken further steps.
According to Preobrazhensky, representatives of the Kremlin and the ruling party have had conversations with the leaders of all of Russia’s parties and made it clear that the other parties must stay close to the ruling party on all major and most minor questions. Those who violate this rule will suffer accordingly, he says they have been told.
He details some of the rumors about what these talks have been like, but the bottom line is that at the very least, Preobrazhensky is correct in speaking about the final formalization of this GDR-style arrangement within the Russian political system, although given Russia’s regional arrangements, these smaller parties are likely to test the limits there in the future.