Russian liberals agree on primaries for single presidential candidate

Representatives of Russia’s liberal opposition parties have, for the first time, agreed to nominate one presidential candidate.

Members of the coalition “For a Russia Free of Outrage and Corruption” on Friday approved the procedure of choosing a single candidate from different democratic forces. 

They plan to hold a congress in June 2011, in which organizations comprising the coalition will have an equal number of delegates. One democratic presidential candidate will be chosen from people proposed by members of the coalition.

Boris Nemtsov, head of the Solidarity movement, described the agreement as “a breakthrough thing.” Democrats have managed to agree on the nomination of a single candidate for the first time in 20 years, he stressed.

The coalition was founded in September by Nemtsov, along with leader of Democratic Choice movement Vladimir Milov, former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who heads the People’s Democratic Union, and the Republican Party’s leader Vladimir Ryzhkov. The liberals plan to register a political party based on the coalition to take part in parliamentary and presidential elections. 

The procedure of nominating a single candidate was adopted during the work on the creation of a united democratic party. Its regional organizations could be established by April next year, when documents for the registration will be submitted to the Justice Ministry. The new organization could be named “The Party of People’s Freedom,” Nemtsov said.  

Liberals have a chance of nominating a single candidate and getting the party registered because the attitude to them “is changing in the country,” Aleksey Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies told Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily.

But Evgeny Minchenko, director of the International Institute of Political Expertise, noted that the agreement on the procedure of the nomination was not final. Also, it will be very difficult to collect two million signatures – with no errors – for a candidate, he told Noviye Izvestia daily.

Even if nominated, the single presidential candidate might not be registered, Minchenko added. He also assumed that “the probably outdated liberal ideology” and the way liberals position themselves would not attract voters.

There will be a breakthrough only if the single candidate “not only is nominated, but also takes part in the election and wins it,” Republican Party head Vladimir Ryzhkov said. But in any case, whoever prevails in the primaries should be supported by all members of the coalition, he stressed.     

­Sergey Borisov, RT