The Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) has finally become a political
party. Only a week has passed, and the right is already facing
the hard facts of life. Chanting "You are right!" is
not going to suffice anymore. Voters have to be offered what is
called "real accomplishments" in official terms.
The Union of Right-Wing Forces got its chance when the Kremlin
began discussing the forthcoming reforms of housing and utilities.
There are specialists in the sphere in the newly-formed political
party – its leader Boris Nemtsov himself was responsible for the
communal and residential sphere as a senior deputy prime minister.
Nevertheless, the Union of Right-Wing Forces chose to keep silent
subject of communal and housing reforms even though the matter
directly concerns the middle class (since they will have to pay
from their own pockets for the reforms), whose interests the new
party claims to be representing.
This neglect of the electorate is attributed to the gap between
public declarations of the right and their actual place in the
political arena. Judging by their own speeches, leaders of the
SPS are real politicians who enjoy direct access to the Kremlin
and have the influence with the powers-that-be which is not enjoyed
by all the other democrats. The right claim to be wholly independent
and Anatoly Chubais even says that they will nominate their own
candidate at the next presidential election, Nemtsov.
Paradoxically, the president supports his potential rivals.
During the parliamentary election in 1999 the Union of Right-Wing
Forces as allowed to say that it supported Putin. Needless to
say, the permission was in fact a form of support of the right
by Putin himself. This time the president sends a complimentary
cable to the congress of the Union of Right-Wing Forces, gives
the right a presence in the form of the NTV channel confiscated
from Vladimir Gusinsky (as Alfred Koch revealed), and all but
makes oligarch Pyotr Aven (who was not exactly removed from the
Kremlin despite Putin's promises concerning equidistance) a sponsor
of the party. Two leaders of the SPS, Chubais and Sergei Kiriyenko,
are state executives.
Unfortunately, by taking over the docile right, the corridors
of power have thereby reduced the potential of this political
resource. A lion's share of the right electorate which does not
exactly support Putin is lost to the SPS now because of the party's
too overt dependence on the Kremlin.
As a result, Kremlin is confronted by two difficult issues. If
the Union of Right-Wing Forces does not control a great deal of
the truly right-wing forces, why bother supporting a political
structure with doubtful electoral capacities? Secondly, what kind
of dialogue should these politicians adopt to influence the mood
of the democratic electorate?
Everything is clear and simple with pro-communist voters. Thanks
to Gennadi Seleznev, a agreement can always be reached with the
communists. Thanks to Gennadi Zyuganov, an agreement will be always
reached with the agrarians. Even radicals like Labour Russia may
be influenced through some left-wing deputy.
This simplicity of relations on the right wing of the political
spectrum is for the time being impossible. The regime cannot shrug
off Yabloko, as its stable 6-7% of the vote enable Grigory Yavlinsky
to remain independent. That is why the authorities cannot dictate
anything to Yavlinsky, something they are already used to in dealings
with the Union of Right-Wing Forces. Boris Berezovsky is now trying
to monopolize the right-wing democratic movement and unite it
within the party Liberal Russia, and a dialogue with him is only
possible through humiliating concessions by the Kremlin. There
is also the Democratic Conference which is slated to meet soon
and unite a large number of liberal political organisations. Unfortunately,
there are problems here, as far as the Kremlin is concerned. Firstly,
the Democratic Conference does not plan to become an electoral
resource. Secondly, its nucleus is mostly composed of Yabloko.
It therefore follows that the three-party system coveted by the
Kremlin (communists, the Unity, and the right-wing) does not encompass
all of the political arena despite expectations. This means that
control over voters is merely an illusion harboured by the Kremlin.
Planned by the authorities, the consolidation of democrats around
the Union of Right-Wing Forces never occurred. Leaders of the
right pledged loyalty to the state and not to liberal ideas. Instead
of repeating the same old question "Who is Mr. Putin?",
we may ask "What is the Union of Right-Wing Forces?"
We do not know yet how right-wing this force is and how strong
it really is.