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United Russia to debate party development strategy before congress

May 25, 2012, 4:33 UTC+3

Medvedev also laid down his vision of a reform inside the party

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MOSCOW, May 25 (Itar-Tass) —— The modernization and a reform inside the party will be high on the agenda of the 13th congress of the United Russia Party due in the Russian capital on Saturday, May 26.

An upcoming United Russia congress can open a new stage in the development of the Russian political system. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is already reported to head the United Russia Party. Medvedev joined the party in contrast to its incumbent chairman, Russian President Vladimir Putin. So, the country will have not just a nominal party leader in the prime minister for the first time.

The delegates of the congress, its guests and experts will discuss the United Russia party development agenda in thematic sections on Friday, ahead of a plenary session of the United Russia congress. They will discuss the party future, primarily the development of democracy inside the party. This time three sections will work up to the number of platforms formed in United Russia, namely social-conservative, liberal and patriotic platforms. Dmitry Medvedev is expected to attend the meetings of the sections. Vladimir Putin, who will quit the post of the United Russia party chairman, will also participate in a congress of the United Russia Party on Saturday.

Medvedev also laid down his vision of a reform inside the party. He is convinced that United Russia can retain the leading position in a long run, there is no other political force in the country that can “bear the full brunt of responsibility for the country.” Meanwhile, Medvedev noted that the party should not rest on the laurels, but should become more modern to keep its leadership. In particular, he offered to include representatives of rank-and-file party bodies in the Supreme and General Councils of the United Russia Party. “The Supreme Council should be supreme for its makeup, people, who represent the whole party should be included in it,” the premier said on May 22, when he was granted a United Russia membership certificate.

The debates about the future of the party became more heated after parliamentary and presidential elections. Even the variant of ‘rebranding’ was discussed for some time, but the party decided to drop this idea. Medvedev believes that the party should keep its brand, but should work seriously to make it more attractive.

The United Russia leadership also decided to refuse from drastic changes in the structure of central governing bodies of the party. In the run-up to the party congress various proposals from the regions were discussed. The regional initiatives confirmed that “the party structure is optimal,” Secretary of the United Russia General Council presidium Sergei Neverov said. Now only the functions of some governing bodies may be specified, and this issue will be also discussed, he noted.

In other words, the party will keep the Supreme Council, the General Council and its presidium and other governing bodies. It is not ruled out that Boris Gryzlov may be nominated again for chairman of the Supreme Council.

The main novelty in the United Russia Charter may become the provision to elect the secretaries of the political councils at all levels on the alternative basis. Members of the General Council were offered to be rotated annually, Neverov pointed out. Anyway, the makeup of the governing bodies of the party will be reshuffled seriously at an upcoming congress. “The chairman of the party and the chairpersons of the Supreme Council and General Council will be elected. If the amendments for the electability of the secretary of the General Council presidium were approved, the secretary will be elected as well,” Neverov remarked.

Neverov assumed that the most heated debates will pass over these amendments at the congress and preliminarily at the grounds of the party platforms. “If a consolidated position were found, relevant amendments will be introduced in the Charter. Otherwise, the initiatives will be put up for voting on the alternative basis, and the congress will take a decision,” a representative of the party leadership said.

Head of the scientific board of the Centre of Political Climate Alexei Chesnakov, who is involved in the run-up to the congress as the head of the Public Council under the United Russia General Council presidium, believes that the congress and the debates prior to the congress will discuss not only party reshuffles, but also some changes in the policy of the party. “The particularities in the relations between the ruling party and the authorities” may be changed, he believes. The final goal is that “the ruling party will form authorities, but not vice versa.” The working principles inside United Russia should be changed for the purpose, the competition inside the party should be made transparent as much as possible in order to relieve the party from the current image of “a technical body of power.” Finally, “the level of influence of the platforms on political decisions in the party” should be raised with the common ideological base retained, Chesnakov believes.

The United Russia congress will bring together 670 delegates. All in all, about 2,000 people will attend the forum, which will be held at the Manezh Exhibition Hall near the Kremlin. Representatives from the All-Russian Popular Front, public unions of United Russia supporters and numerous guests, including about 30 foreign delegations from the parties, with which United Russia has cooperation agreements, were invited to the congress. Journalists have the traditional interests in the United Russia congress. Over 1,000 Russian and foreign media people are accredited for the congress.

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