Party that won 1 seat in new Duma offers representation to outsiders

The building of the Russian State Duma on Okhotny Ryad Street in Moscow. © Natalia Seliverstova
The Civil Platform party, which obtained a single seat in the Lower House in the recent elections, has offered to draft and promote legislative initiatives submitted by parties that fell short in the election.

The Civil Platform is offering all parties that have not made it into the parliament to use its representation capabilities in the State Duma to draft and support their own legislative initiatives aimed at Russia’s development. The party is also ready to begin negotiations of the ideology of a political bloc built on its basis,” party leader and MP Rifat Shaykhutdinov said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Shaykhutdinov, who was elected from an independent single-mandate constituency, also promised not to join any parliamentary factions or blocs and only work in the interests of those who voted for him.

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He noted that in the parliamentary elections on September 18, 12 percent of the voters, or almost six million Russian citizens, backed political parties that eventually failed to pass the five-percent threshold required for obtaining seats in the parliament. “This is a tremendous number, comparable with the population of countries such as Norway and Singapore,” he said.

At the same time, Shaykhutdinov said that the offer primarily concerns right-wing pro-business parties, such as the Civil Platform itself.

The Civil Platform party was launched in 2012 by one of Russia’s richest businessmen, Mikhail Prokhorov. The party was deliberately created to be very small – initially it consisted of just 500 members which then was the minimum required for registration – and Prokhorov said he wanted to support nonpartisan leaders of civil society and give them the opportunity to be elected. The billionaire also said that neither he nor the majority of his associates would join the party.

Prokhorov later stepped down from his position as Civil Platform leader and became less involved in politics. Some analysts believed that this was due to the fact that Russia had barred owners of foreign assets from political posts, and Prokhorov did not want to give his up – in particular, the Brooklyn Nets NBA franchise that he bought in 2010. Others hinted at the billionaire’s growing frustration over the poor popularity of his project in conditions of growing political competition.

In March 2015, Prokhorov announced that he was abandoning the Civil Platform project and suggested that his former comrades should decide whether to rename it or liquidate it. This came after many Civil Platform activists, including senior party officials, took part in the “Anti-Maidan March” in Moscow – an event held in late February 2015, in which over 40,000 people expressed their support for the Russian government, in particular Russian President Vladimir Putin, and protested against any attempts at regime change in the country by means of “color revolutions.”

READ MORE: Billionaire Prokhorov calls own party ‘senseless’ and quits

Rifat Shaykhutdinov, a career politician with a background in the populist nationalist LDPR party, became leader of the Civil Platform party right after Prokhorov’s demise.

Civil Platform was one of six political parties that gained parliamentary representation in this year’s elections, but it only received one seat in the State Duma through a single-mandate vote in the oil-producing city of Neftekamsk in central Russia’s Bashkortostan. The nationalist Motherland party also received one seat in the new duma, and the rest went to the major parties: United Russia, the Communist Party, Fair Russia, and LDPR, with United Russia holding the constitutional majority in the Lower House.