The elections to the State Duma are over.
We all observed the tough struggle and the powerful propaganda
methods that were used during the elections. We asked
the Chairman of the Programme Commission of the Yabloko
association Alexei Mikhailov to provide an initial analysis
of the campaign and explain his point of view on the possible
political implications of the elections for Yabloko.
Question: How do you assess the results of the Duma elections?
Alexey Mikhailov: For Yabloko this is a failure. A complete
failure. In addition to the federal list candidates we
have only two single mandate candidates out of 224, that
are members of Yabloko. This accords us less than one
per cent (another three candidates are not members of
Yabloko). This is a huge drop compared to 1995. The Yabloko
faction has changed - it has shrunk instead of increasing
its number of seats in the Duma - it has been halved.
Q: Why did Yabloko perform so poorly at the elections?
Mikhailov: The main reasons for the failure are subjective.
It was attributable to the lack of any strategy and planning
of the electoral campaign, the inertia of the campaign
and inability to quickly react to the situation; no breakdown
of Yabloko's propaganda into different audiences and regions;
general slackness; lack of counter-propaganda; non-selective
work with single-mandate candidates, insufficient concentration
of resources on the candidates that had very good chances
of winning; introduction and support (including financial
support) of a large number of obviously weak candidates;
subjective approach in work with candidates and regional
organisations; clearly poor management in Yabloko's federal
head-quarters; insufficient propaganda through ORT and
RTR TV channels and regional television channels, sometimes
poor preparation for the free television debates (for
example, when I appeared on the ORT programme, I was surprised
to learn that I had to participate in the debates with
different parties to the ones I had been told about by
Yabloko's headquarters. Furthermore we received no assistance
from Yabloko's headquarters) for the "Vox Populi"
programme of the NTV channel (especially in the discussions
with Sergei Kiryenko and Georgy Boos). Other reasons include
poor political work with governors, as well as virtual
non-participation in the elections of mayors, governors,
etc., that were held simultaneously with the Duma elections
(for example, there were no Yabloko candidates at these
elections). It is high time for a party with a six year
history to resolve such problems). If we lack our own
candidates, we could support someone else, but failure
to participate means failure.
There were also objective reasons for the threefold decline
in Yabloko's rating during 1999 - the formation of the
"Fatherland - All Russia" and "Unity"
blocs, Vladimir Putin's high rating, etc., as well as
the principled positions of Yabloko and its leader Grigory
Yavlinsky over the situation in Chechnya and the union
with Belarus. But a reduction to under 9-10% is, in my
opinion, indicative of a clearly abortive electoral campaign
(which is indirectly confirmed by the polls of the Public
Opinion Fund). Our defeats to the Union of Right-Wing
Forces and our failure in St Petersburg are especially
Q.: What do you think about the future division of forces
in the new State Duma?
Mikhailov: It is good that the communists will not have
majority control the Duma any more. Moreover, it looks
as if we will witness a rough balance of forces in the
There will be a virtual balance between the CPRF and
the "Fatherland - All Russia", "Unity",
the "Union of Right-Wing Forces" and single
mandate deputies, that are inclined to support "Unity".
Yabloko could play a balancing role here, if we had another
10-15 seats. The balance of forces may shift in favour
of the Kremlin and the Government due to a separation
of "All Russia" from "Fatherland - All
Russia". Then the Kremlin may hold a relative majority
of votes. Agreements on constitutional laws will be required
(two-thirds of the total number of votes).
If we are lucky, Yabloko can propose its candidate as
Speaker of the State Duma. Then the positions of Yabloko
could be strengthened somewhat, provided that we don't
have to sacrifice posts in the Duma committees for the
post of Speaker...
The questions were asked by Usam Ozdemirov, Yabloko Rossiyi