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Russia’s political landscape is changing but not radically yet

March 31, 2015, 19:35 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. Russia’s political landscape needs renewal by the time a new State Duma will have to be elected in 2016 and the chances of political parties will largely depend on their attitude to Crimea’s reunification with Russia, experts believe. In the meantime, the country’s political space has seen some changes already, although not radical ones yet.

State Duma member Oksana Dmitriyeva, one of Russia’s leading economists, on Monday quit A Just Russia party to declare plans for creating a political organization of her own, called Professionals’ Party. "A Just Russia no longer copes with its task of forming a professional opposition," Dmitriyeva said, adding that her party would seek to fill that niche. Dmitriyeva declared her party would seek to represent the interests of the middle class, business people, and retirees. She described its ideology as "social democracy and economic patriotism." The yet-to-be formed political force may incorporate part of A Just Russia members and representatives of smaller parties with no chances of getting into parliament on their own: Civic Platform, for instance.

As far as the Civic Platform is concerned, its founder and first leader, big business tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov earlier this month left the party together with a group of associates, most of them liberally minded intellectuals. Prokhorov and his entourage were angry the party’s new leaders firmly supported Crimea’s reunification with Russia and some party members participated in demonstrations by the Anti-Maidan movement.

Nevertheless the party has survived so far, although not in the shape Prokhorov had once wished it to take, and looks determined to stay in politics and participate in elections.

As for the liberal segment of the out-of-parliament opposition, whose members have for many years been unable to team up for participation in the elections, a trend towards some sort of rapprochement developed after the killing of a co-chairman of the RPR-PARNAS party, Boris Nemtsov. A member of the central council of Alexey Navalny’s Party of Progress, Leonid Volkov, urged the opposition’s leaders to stop quarrelling at last and to begin preparations for Duma elections in earnest. The leader of the Yabloko party, Sergey Mitrokhin, has described his vision of conditions on which a coalition might emerge. In the meantime, the RPR-PARNAS party has called upon all liberals to unite.

If State Duma elections were to be held in the near future, 59% of Russia’s electorate would vote for the ruling party, United Russia, as follows from a poll by the public opinion fund FOM. The leaders of the Liberal Democrats and the Communists would receive 6% of the votes respectively, and A Just Russia, Yabloko and Russian Pensioners’ party, 1% each.

Russia’s political landscape needs renovation by the time the election campaign begins. There is still some time left, says the president of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov. "The ruling party and the systemic opposition parties have been drifting ever closer towards each other," he told TASS. "Therefore, the focus is on the main problem of the non-systemic opposition, which has dropped out of the basic political and nation state-oriented consensus — that over Crimea."

Support for this consensus, Remizov said, is a mandatory condition for full-fledged participation in Russia’s politics. In all other respects the parties may disagree, be it socio-economic affairs, cultural or other issues.

As for Dmitriyeva’s project, Remizov believes, it is too early to say anything definite, although she is "one of the brightest personalities in A Just Russia" and also "fits in well with the Crimean consensus." Civic Platform, he said, was Prokhorov’s party, and its founder and first leader displayed "inconsistency and infantilism" and was oriented to a handful of "high bohemians."

But if Civic Platform will survive as a party without him is a big question.

Generally speaking, Remizov said, creation of a right-of-centre liberal party fitting with the post-Crimean consensus is an absolute need. This may happen way before the elections. Over the eighteen months still to go many things may change. But in any case non-systemic liberals have no chances of being "a major factor" in the 2016 parliamentary election race.

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