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Experts forecast the future of the party of power

February 22, 2012, 13:04 UTC+3
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Novye Izvestia publishes an article on political future of the party of power. Most experts are sure nothing may help United Russia, the newspaper writes.

Leader of the United Russia’s faction Andrei Vorobyev said on Tuesday that the party congress was due in June of the current year, and it will announce some staff changes. It was soon after the State Duma elections that the necessity to make the party rebranding was mentioned. However, Novye Izvestia revealed that not  everybody in the party supported the idea hoping to do away with some minor changes. Meanwhile, the progress of the agitation campaign for Vladimir Putin, who United Russia nominated, makes politicians and political scientists think that he does not need support from the party, which has compromised itself, or even that this support may harm him. Thus, experts say, the organisation risks being dismissed to be replaced by a clearly new structure. The history repeats itself, like in the case with the previous “parties of power.”

Lately, the process of the political elite’s distancing from the United Russia Party became evident and large-scale, the newspaper stressed. The first proof was that in the past elections to the State Duma most regional “first three” names on the list featured anybody but United Russia’s career officials. The story repeated at the municipal elections in Moscow and other regions, where United Russia’s members all of a sudden were nominated not by the party but as self-nominees or even by other parties – recent competitors. Not a single flag of the party of power was seen at the rally on Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow, which was organised in support of Vladimir Putin.

A similar situation continues during the presidential campaign. Heads of the election headquarters of the candidate, nominated by United Russia, do not come from the party, but represent civil organisations. Billboards carrying portraits of Vladimir Putin do not have any mentioning of the organisation, which only recently was considered to be very influential. Even the candidate himself in his speeches began to distance himslef from the party or even criticise United Russia. Vladimir Putin’s election headquarters try to avoid associating themselves with United Russia.

Here is a clear example: head of the Popular Headquarters of Vladimir Putin’s allies in the Novosibirsk region Nikolai Fomichev said openly that the region, where United Russia scored three months earlier 34 percent, plans to keep a distance from the party, as membership in the party has become “an aggravating circumstance.” Thus, the only thing they are doing is explaining the prime minister’s policy. Leader of Novosibirsk’s communists Anatoly Lokot confirms: Putin’s election headquarters do not use United Russia as a brand. “As if it is not there at all,” he told the newspaper. “None of his trusted representatives belongs to United Russia either.”

Meanwhile, United Russia itself prefers not to dramatise the situation, and completely turns down the version about the weaker party, about its split or even dismissal. A member of United Russia’s General Council and Chairman of the Central Council of the party’s allies, deputy Franz Klintsevich claims the party does not need any rebranding, which was mentioned recently at its central executive committee. “Correct, some changes are to happen anyway,” he said. “We should analyse clearly our drawbacks and advantages.”

Political scientists doubt that the announced changes may help United Russia. Leading expert of the Centre of Political Situation Pavel Salin said it would not be a rebranding, but rather organisation of a new structure. “The party tried rebranding before the Duma elections, but nothing came out of it,” he said. “For several more months the party is unlikely to find time to deal with United Russia, and later on it will rather try to do something about it. It would be a total cleaning on the federal level. But anyway 50 percent of it will still represent the same organisation. Because on the regional level it does not have an alternative. It would be a replica of the situation of the 1990s, where the name of the party was changed on the federal level.”

Well, correct, we used to have Russia’s Choice, and then came Our Home Russia, and later on Unanimity, now we have United Russia. What did change esd the sign and federal speakers, but from the organisational point of view the same people glided into the new party. At the same time, Salin does not rule out that this time the shift of staff from the party to other structures may start. It has not happened yet, but only because the elite has not decided yet what to do and where to run.

It is absolutely clear nothing may help the party, Director General of the Council on National Strategy Valery Khomyakov said. “The public has a clear perception of United Russia as a ‘party of swindlers and thieves’ and nothing can remove this label,” he told Novye Izvestia. “It realises clearly how unpopular it is with the public. And the rebranding will not give it anything.”

The experts forecasts that a new structure may be organised on the basis of the Popular Front. And that Vladimir Putin would use his presidential campaign for organisation of a new political structure.



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