Russian opposition leaders launch campaign for two-party parliamentary system

Russian opposition leaders launch campaign for two-party parliamentary system
Two opposition leaders in Russia’s parliament have urged the nation to switch to a two-party political system, similar to that of the US. They have pledged to launch a major social-democratic project to prove its viability.

On Friday the head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, urged Russian lawmakers to switch to the two-party system as soon as possible. “Let us switch to the two-party system from January 1, 2019 and let us pass a bill instituting the State Council,” Zhirinovsky told reporters at a joint press conference of leaders of the parliamentary caucuses.

If the government would not stand for this, well, we can form a new one with the help of the parliament and these two parties. There will be two parties and three of us will be sitting here: the State Duma speaker with the chairman of the conservative party to the right of him and the head of the social-democratic party to the left,” he added in his trademark manner. 

Zhirinovsky insisted that the two-party system had proved its effectiveness in the United States and noted that Russian “epic, history and roots” had many examples of successfully operating triads similar to the one he spoke about. 

However, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin suggested the LDPR leader should not be so confident in his party’s popularity. “You must know that in the United States they have a pure majority system, all their lawmakers are being elected from independent constituencies. If we implement this American model the most likely candidate for the second party is the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and LDPR would suffer the most from it,” Volodin argued.

In the last parliamentary election, the centrist-conservative United Russia party won 342 seats and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation got 42 seats. LDPR won 39 seats and leftist party Fair Russia got 23.

The head of the Fair Russia party, Sergey Mironov, said that he liked Zhirinovsky’s proposal, adding that he and his colleagues had already spent six months preparing a reform package that would allow Fair Russia to participate in such a system. Mironov promised to demonstrate the preliminary results of his work as early as the fall.

Mironov also emphasized that the social-democratic party best suited to counter-balancing the parliamentary conservatives already exists, insisting both the charter and the program of the Fair Russia party are a perfect fit for the proposed system.

The Liberal Democrats already proposed a switch to the two-party system a year ago. In August 2017 Zhirinovsky issued a dedicated statement, claiming that the reform would ensure the equal presence of various forces within parliament, allow the formation of coalition governments, and guarantee the stable transfer of power. Back then, however, no other political force in Russia supported the idea.

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