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19 Sep, 2007 03:18

Russian parties line up for pre-election campaign

A little more than two months are left until the parliamentary elections in Russia. Political parties are striving to get as many votes as possible to cross the 7% threshold needed to enter the State Duma, thus reaching out to all potential constituents.

For the Fair Russia party, the December vote will be the first parliamentary elections. No wonder its leader is eager to use all his chances.
“In our multicultural society we have to know the traditions and customs of different ethnic and religious groups,” states Sergey Mironov, Fair Russia party leader.
But it is not the first time that attitudes to ethnic minorities have become an election issue.
In the 1990s, Communists used to be the largest group in parliament but nowadays their influence is limited to 10% of the seats. To appeal to voters, they are testing out new tactics, one of which being political debates.
“Before Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, our country saw some of its best times. We built factories, explored space and developed agriculture. People were confident in their future,” claims Svetlana Orlova, member of the Communist party.
Their opponents represent the United Russia party that controls two-thirds of the seats in the current parliament. Their main goal is not to expand but rather to keep what they have.
“Our platform is to preserve a balance between interests of the individuals and the state. I think in modern Russia this balance is as close to ideal as it has ever been,” explains Konstantin Kosachev, United Russia party member.
The Yabloko party has waited four years to taste legislative power. In previous elections, these right-wing liberals failed to get 5% of the vote – the minimum required to enter the Russian State Duma. Starting from this year, the threshold was raised to 7% but the party leader is beaming with optimism.
“While not being in parliament, the party has become stronger. Career-makers, come-and-go people and those who have come to politics to make money – all of them have left the party. Only those who truly believe in our cause have remained. I think we have good prospects,” believes Grigory Yavlinsky, Yabloko party leader.
But the winner of the first week of active campaigning was the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR). The party is no stranger to controversy but its recent move beats it all. Andrey Lugovoy, a former security officer wanted in Britain in connection with the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko, has become one of its front-runners.
With more than two months left until the elections, the parties still have room for the final push.