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Books by Grigory Yavlinsky
Economics and Politics in Russia
The Center for Economic and Political Research (EPIcenter)
Nizhni Novgorod-Moscow, 1992


The Problems of Political Parties and Public Movements

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Political parties are passing today through a period of "disorder and hesitation".

The period of "the storm and onslaught", active political action which lead to a rapid development of parties and public movements of democratic orientation, has passed. There are reasons for this. On the one hand, the country at least formally has become democratic. And it is obvious that the slogans of "democratization of social life" have lost their urgency. On the other hand, the democratic ideals, having been implemented, have ceased looking like such. The

phantoms of the "market" and "freedom" are hardly recognized in the midst of a hard daily life. Life has become not just difficult (as it was before), but even threatening. This led to disappointment in the communist ideology and indifference toward it.

The patriotic movement gaining strength does not yet have a positive notion as to what to do, it is still far from formulating a positive programme. Accordingly, this is one of the reasons why this movement has yet so few adherents. (Besides, at present, we have to admit that the patriotic movement to a greater extent than the democrats, who are in power now, is targeted at negation and destruction; paradoxically as it may seem, this demonstrates "statehood" to a lesser degree. It is connected with the fact that national patriots are in opposition, and the democrats are in power. Participation in the governing of the state by the "power of things", the latter have to take certain decisions. And it is quite another problem that very often these decisions are bad).

Another characteristic feature of our politics is that parties in our country are "boiling and brooding" in the capitals, and divisions of the parties in the provinces are rather weak: with a small number of active party members and small funds. This is due to the fact that life in the provinces is less "politicized", and people in the regions live in a more "normal" way.

Absence of effective ideology, which could comprise both sober assessment of the situation and a development of quite realistic goals, should be considered one of the major problems of our political life. On the other hand, if the situation will be assessed "realistically", there will emerge social groups whose interests the parties and movements will represent, and consequently, funds which will support the parties themselves.

From our point of view the ideology of Russian federalism, and the new Russian integration can become such an "effective ideology". It is this ideology which can unite part of the diverse democratic forces and a part of the patriotic opposition. The question of what this union will be like - a new party, or a block of parties - is not very important. What is important is the structure which would bring the ideas of federalism to the people, and would fulfil a certain political function - for example, support the local and federal candidates adhering to federalist views.

What are the major conditions of organization of political forces on a legal basis? Two should be recognized as such:

- first, the process of formation of the subjects of the new federation should begin. The "beginning" should be expressed in realization by at least a part of the regional elite (entrepreneurs, in the first place) of their interests. This is necessary as it is the financial resources of the groups interested in new integration which will support these parties;

- second, the new federalism idea should be developed in a systematic form. This is a goal of the creative elite, and of the intelligentsia.

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