Senior Eurasia Analyst Lauren Goodrich discusses shifts in the Russian political landscape ahead of the Dec. 4 parliamentary elections.
Editor’s Note:Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
This Sunday Russia will hold its parliamentary, or Duma, elections. Over the past decade elections have not really been of much concern, as the political landscape of Russia has been dominated by a singular party – Premier Vladimir Putin’s United Russia. However, this year there are a few interesting shifts taking place — though everything may not be exactly what it seems. Going off current and widely accepted polling numbers, it looks as if four parties will be getting into Duma. United Russia will most likely take 53 percent of the projected vote, with the remaining seats going to the Communists, Liberal Democrats and Just Russia. Though United Russia will be taking majority of the vote, it is actually a decrease for the ruling party by a projected, maybe 10 percent, leading many in Russia to question the strength of United Russia — and its leader Vladimir Putin. But we need to step back a bit and look at the other parties that will be getting into Duma. Both the Communists and Liberal Democratic Party are highly nationalist. The Communist Party is of course an old relic of the Soviet Union, but works well with Putin and his agenda. The Liberal Democratic Party is run by security hawk Vladimir Zhirinovsky and has roots in the KGB. These two parties would prefer that Putin was more nationalist than he is now — not less. The last party, Just Russia, is considered the most “liberal” though its leading figure, Sergei Mironov, has openly stated that his party follows Putin’s path for Russia. So where there are many political parties in Russia, they all are loyal to Putin — even if they don’t like each other. This was Putin’s plan all along. What Putin has been attempting to do is create a system of managed democracy. Putin wants to make Russia look democratic — which is a good political show domestically, as well as is meant to woo investors and potential allies to a pseudo-friendlier Russia. So the public may balk at United Russia’s show in the upcoming elections. But this is all part of Putin’s grand plan. His plan for managed democracy. These parliamentary elections will keep all parties in Duma loyal to Putin, while Russia is pretending to be more democratic.
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