United Russia faces depressing forecast, vows to change tactics

Supporters of the "United Russia" take part in a party rally. (RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)
The Russian polling service VTSIOM has released a report based on recent polls saying that the United Russia party may soon lose the constitutional majority in the parliament. The party says it is already dealing with the situation.

­The forecast of the All-Russian Public Opinion Center VTSIOM said that the current preferences of the Russian voters are such that the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections will not be in favor of the ruling party United Russia. The party is set to lose the constitutional majority and get only 290 seats in the State Duma instead of current 315. The party will still have 58.7 per cent of the Duma votes, but it is less than the 70 per cent required by Russian law to make changes in the Constitution.

The forecast also had some sad news for smaller players on the Russian political field – the Right Cause, Yabloko and Patriots of Russia parties were not expected to make it through the seven per cent threshold with 2.9, 2.7 and 1.8 per cent of votes respectively. Parliamentary parties such as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Fair Russia and the Liberal-Democratic party will get 14.9, 10.7 and 10.0 percent of the votes respectively.

The poll forecasts the voter turnout at 52 per cent and reads that about 8.8 percent of votes will be lost to spoiled ballots and other violations.

The poll was released on Thursday and on the same day the Kommersant daily newspaper published an extensive interview with deputy chairman of United Russia secretariat Andrey Isayev, who pointed out that United Russia is indeed currently facing those problems and outlined some possible ways to improve the situation.

The politician said that a new group has formed in Russia, and it is growing – a group of people whose attitude to the United Russia can be described as extreme dislike, and who are ready to vote for any political force if it is not United Russia. The official also noted that the party itself lacks a clear single goal, and therefore, a central slogan for the electoral campaign. Isayev acknowledged that a whole decade had passed since the nineties with the “bring Russia up from its knees” slogan and society was no longer seeing stability and sovereignty as desired objectives.  At the same time, modernization has not yet become the new national idea, despite all the efforts of the state propaganda. Isayev said that he himself suggested making the idea of “people’s modernization” or “modernization for the people; not at their expense” United Russia’s new main slogan and make a new “people’s front” around United Russia and its leader.    

The politician also listed other problems the United Russia party is currently facing. As many top officials are party members, it suffers from the state anti-corruption campaign, as many civil servants are being accused summarily and without any proof.

On the other hand, the fact that regional leaders are being appointed by the president and not elected, they are less interested in the party’s success but still have huge influence within the party.  

Isayev also blamed the “partyless right-wingers” in the top echelons of power, such as Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin and presidential aide Arkadiy Dvorkovich for his party’s problems.

Another United Russia source, the head of the public council Aleksei Chesnakov, said that United Russia is currently holding internal debates on a possibly changing their image and tactics, and expects the first results to appear in approximately two months.