YABLOKO Federal Council discusses changes in the party
Press Release, 20.03.2017
The meeting of the Federal Council of YABLOKO, the most representative body of the party, worked in Moscow on 18-19 March. Chair of the party Emilia Slabunova and Deputy Chair Nikolai Rybakov summarised the results of the elections to the State Duma in 2016 and told how YABLOKO should change. The Federal Council conducted party debates devoted to this issue. The debates were broadcast live on YABLOKO website.
The meeting was opened by Chairman of YABLOKO’s Federal Political Committee Grigory Yavlinsky. In his opening remarks, Yavlinsky said that the Federal Council was taking place at a time when “we could tell that Russia was at a turning point – from the nearly 30-year period of trying to establish democracy and open society in Russia to some other, new era.”
According to Yavlinsky, the task of the Federal Council is to decide how YABLOKO should work in the new conditions with new generations of Russians.
The speech of YABLOKO Chair Emilia Slabunova was devoted to the parliamentary election campaign of 2016, because it was the first large-scale party meeting after the elections. Slabunova highly praised the team and the electoral programme of the party. She noted that then the party had managed to form a single democratic list of candidates inviting many democratic and public figures to its list. YABLOKO programme addressed all citizens and contained over 140 draft laws, as well as proposals for the abolition of 25 repressive laws passed by the Duma of the previous convocation.
Emilia Slabunova also told that YABLOKO did not recognize the results of the elections to the State Duma and challenged them in the Supreme Court. “I am ready to say that it is easy to make elections honest – it is enough to cancel the results once,” Emilia Slabunova said.
The party carried out a comprehensive analysis of the election results and the campaign, however, there were difficulties in conducting such analysis as the true results of the vote were unclear. Emilia Slabunova stressed that the result of the election was distorted, not only to prevent YABLOKO from entering the parliament, but also “in order for us to search for the guilty, by mutual reproaches we would launch the processes of self-destruction”.
Slabunova presented a detailed analysis of the reasons for the low election results. In total, she singled out 30 reasons. The objective factors that determined the election results were changes in the electoral system aimed at reducing the turnout, open and cynical use of the administrative resource, lack of equal access to the media, and powerful propaganda. Also the results of the inner-party activities that could not be eliminated for the period preceding the campaign also affected the vote, Emilia Slabunova stressed.
Slabunova also noted that it was important, given the high probability of an extremely unfavorable situation in the coming years, to formulate new tasks for YABLOKO in the context of further consolidation of the Russian authoritarian regime, when the activity of a European-type parliamentary party is impossible due to the lack of free media, independent justice and independent financing.
Slabunova noted that the first of such tasks would the expansion of YABLOKO’s social base: “We need to focus on the majority of the country’s residents, so that they believe that we express their interests, that democracy is a reform for the majority.” The second task should be formation of an comprehensive alternative to Vladimir Putin regime and its policies, formation of an alternative image of the state. “The party plans to solve this task through its legislative activities, development of alternative programmes on the key issues, formation of a party spokespersons’ pool and serious political work with regional branches,” Emilia Slabunova said.
The third task should be formation of the Party’s personnel reserve, i.e. people capable of assuming responsibility for the country’s future, as well as attracting non-partisan experts to the work. The fourth task should be reconfiguration of the party: abolishing the task of increasing the number of party members, but increase the independence and self-sufficiency of party’s structural units, and develop criteria for assessing the efficiency of regional organisations.
Deputy Chairman Nikolai Rybakov spoke in detail about the analysis of the election campaign and announced party debates about the changes in YABLOKO, that had to be conducted in the party for the first time. “I very much hope that the new format will bring new content to our work. Changes in the party are necessary, we must work in a new way in the new circumstances in our country,” Nikolai Rybakov said.