ROAR: Modernization still needs coalition of supporters

Tasks set by the president’s article “Go, Russia!” a year ago remain important issue, as the alliance of modernizers has to be formed, analysts say.

Many participants of the Global Policy Summit in Yaroslavl expected new initiatives from President Dmitry Medvedev, Izvestia daily said. “A year ago, just before the beginning of the first global political forum, he published his policy article. Together with his speech in Yaroslavl it forced may analysts to look at Russia from a different point of view.”

One year is not enough for “categorical assessments,” but it is enough to assess the readiness of the society and authorities for sensible actions in that direction, said Boris Makarenko, chairman of the Center for Political Technology.

Forming the modernization coalition was one of the most important aspects of the president’s article, the analyst wrote in Vedomosti daily. Medvedev had invited people who shared his views, as well as opponents, for co-operation.

So far “no one has said aloud that they do not want the development or are afraid of it,” Makarenko said. But political mainstream has pretended not to notice (and in fact, it was afraid of it) the president’s words about “parliamentary parties that succeed each other in power” and “free competition of open political associations,” the analyst added.

He noted such “modest measures” as equal access to media for all political parties and equally small steps maintaining the current – very limited – level of political competition.

Positive changes in the economy may be fulfilled if an effective public coalition for modernization is formed irrespective of participants’ ideological convictions or personal feelings towards a particular politician, Makarenko believes.

The coalition should also attract those “who do not agree with the authorities, but genuinely wish changes for the better,” the analyst said, citing Medvedev’s article. “Translating this into the language of real politics that means the authorities should learn to listen to the active part of society, even recognizing their own mistakes and correcting them. And society should gain trust in the authorities.”

The past year has seen mixed development in this direction, he noted. “The authorities really have made several steps towards society and sometimes recognized its mistakes (even if only by proposing new decisions) and dismissed officials for most serious faults,” Makarenko said. “As the president warned, the ruling class, of course, did not like the increased openness and transparency of society.”

“Even the first commentators of the president’s article stressed that the coalition of modernizers at the beginning stage is active minority rather than majority,” the analyst noted.

“However, if this most active minority (the middle class, for example) does not acquire trust in the state, then where this coalition come from?” the analyst asked.

Only a society of citizens who believe in themselves and trust the state may create a self-moving mechanism that make it possible not to waste the modernization potential, Makarenko believes. “If the current modernization does not solve this task, there will be no moving forward,” he said.

“Democracy for development is the most important task facing us,” believes Sergey Markov, a political scientist and State Duma deputy from the United Russia party.

“Now we should determine the direction in which we are going to develop the political system,” the party’s website quoted Markov as saying. “We need to answer a few questions on democracy.”

In the late ’80s Russians wanted to build a democratic society but failed, although they “have done everything” to succeed, the analyst noted. “We should understand why we failed,” he added.

In addition, one of the most important problems is “political passivity and lack of experience of peaceful democracy between elections,” Markov said. The question is how to form democratic institutions in these conditions, the analyst said. “I expect these problems to be discussed,” he added.

A number of factors hinder Russia’s modernization, said Director of the National Energy Security Fund Konstantin Simonov. One of the most important is the fact that Russian business, “the potential locomotive of the modernization, does not show a zeal for it,” he said.

At the same time, “the state has not developed its tax policy to stimulate innovations in economy,” the analyst told website.

“I think Russian business had a unique chance to prove that the country’s modernization and creating new factories is possible not only in the framework of the repressive model,” Simonov said.

“This is exactly what Medvedev said a year ago, in September, when he wrote the article ‘Go, Russia!’” the analyst noted. The article said that for the first time we were facing “the task of modernization in the conditions of democracy,” he added. “But did we not have the same task in the ’90s? That means that it was not fulfilled at that time.”

Private business could have fulfilled big economic projects without the participation of the state as a repressive mechanism, Simonov said. “However, our business abandoned this task.”

“Today we need integral projects like Skolkovo, the tax policy should be changed and companies should be forced to finance innovations,” the analyst stressed.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT