| The elections for the fourth Duma have been won by the
pro-presidential United Russia party and the new leftists from the Motherland
bloc (Rodina). The main casualties in these elections are likely to be
the Communists, and the liberals of the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS)
United Russia leaders felt like it was their birthday yesterday. Valery
Bogomolov, secretary of the party's general council, declared that United
Russia hoped to have 190 Duma seats (Unity and Fatherland factions had
134 seats in the third Duma), with Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, leader
of United Russia's supreme council, as speaker of the lower house. Vyacheslav
President of the Politics Foundation, predicts that the pro- presidential
majority may exceed 60% in the new Duma.
"This is not a victory for United Russia - this is a victory for
Putin [who openly supported United Russia during the election campaign],"
says political consultant Alexander Tsipko. "People in the provinces
viewed United Russia as a local branch [...] of government, responsible
for heating, water and gas," says Lilia Shevtsova from the Moscow
The most controversial, yet predictable, sensation of the elections
was the success of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party and the leftist and conservative
Motherland bloc. In the opinion of political consultant Oleg Matveychev,
their success can be attributed to the prevailing "powerful state-patriotic
conservative right wing" trend in Russia nowadays. Vyacheslav Nikonov
of the Politics Foundation tends to attribute the LDPR's success to its
successful campaigning against the Communists.
The success of Zhirinovsky's party and Motherland is favourable for
the Kremlin, political consultants say.
"Glazyev [...] is a fanatic, but I think even fanatics phone the
presidential administration before challenging anything," Gleb Pavlovsky
In Nikonov's opinion, presidential initiatives will be supported by
both Motherland and the LDPR at the new Duma.
However, Sergei Glazyev yesterday tried to dispel his image as a politician
controlled by the Kremlin. He said that in the previous Duma the CPRF
faction had been the only one to keep its campaign promises.
Yesterday, YABLOKO leader Grigory
Yavlinsky looked very confident. He didn't miss any opportunity to
say that YABLOKO "is ready to take responsibility for democratic
forces in the new Duma."
The mood in the SPS camp was much gloomier. SPS's top three - Anatoly
Chubais, Irina Khakamada and Boris Nemtsov - pointed out with some disappointment
that their predictions of "national- socialists" in the new
Duma were coming true. "We have to eliminate that brown mold,"
said Chubais - but he didn't rule out that "the elimination could
take a long time."
Yevgeny Yasin, Deputy Rector of the Higher School of Economics, who
supports the SPS, says that Motherland's success struck a blow mostly
against the CPRF and the SPS. "Putin has lost his opponents on the
right, and significant intellectual support. The president will now have
to take Glazyev's position into consideration, which won't be at all useful
from the economic point of view," says Yasin.
State Duma elections