Boris Nemtsov, leader of
the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS),
proposes that all democratic forces agree to back one candidate
president after the parliamentary election in 2003. The formula
simple. Each party nominates its own candidate. The Duma election
who has won. All democratic forces support the candidate whose
gathered the most votes, even if they actually dislike that particular
It isn't hard to see that the SPS leader
expects his party to come
first. Despite all ratings fluctuations, the SPS is far more popular
Yabloko, Liberal Russia, and particularly Mikhail Prusak's Democratic
Political scientists are skeptical. They
say that the right-wing
parties and movements may yet fail to reach agreement. "There
can be no
doubt that the idea of a common candidate is Nemtsov's personal
initiative," says Vyacheslav Nikonov, President of the "Politika"
Foundation. "His colleagues may object." In any case,
even if the SPS
Council backs Nemtsov, there will be serious problems with Yabloko.
not believe they can form an alliance," says Nikonov. "I
that Yavlinsky will ever agree to the idea of a common candidate
representing all democratic forces - unless this candidate is
Nikonov was right. Grigory Yavlinsky
was quoted as saying
yesterday: "We have the best internal organization of all
forces, the Democratic Assembly. The Democratic Assembly is supposed
decide matters concerning common candidates." Moreover, Yavlinsky
not consider Nemtsov's initiative new. He notes that a similar
was made by Yabloko and the Democratic Choice of Russia in 1995.
made it to the Duma then, but the Democratic Choice of Russia
did not. It
disregarded the agreement and supported Boris Yeltsin in 1996.
To a large
extent, the Union of Right-Wing Forces is legal successor to the
Democratic Choice of Russia, and Yabloko does not want to be tricked
"The Union of Right-Wing Forces
decided to nominate a handsome,
attractive, young, and reckless politician for president as a
candidate. Whoever refuses to support that man is therefore considered
splitter," says Sergei Yushenkov of the Liberal Russia. Yushenkov
that democrats have not even begun consultations over a common
for the election. "The Union of Right-Wing Forces and our
party have not
even been able to reach agreement concerning a common candidate
deputy from electoral district No. 206 in St. Petersburg, Galina
Starovoitova's district. This latest initiative is
simply a publicity stunt," concludes Yushenkov.
Some observers assume that Nemtsov voiced
the idea which may become
the last chance of the right after the election. "The right-wing
could take a real beating in the next election," says Andrei
Ryabov, an expert at the Carnegie Foundation. "Some details
indicate that United Russia is drawing away some right-wing voters.
the current situation, many voters will refuse to support
democratic candidates in the presidential election too..."
We have two years before the election,
and the raising of this
initiative by Nemtsov at this point does not mean it will be implemented
right away. "I do not think anything will come of it,"
says Ryabov. "It's a tactical move from the point of view
of charting an
election strategy. It is a PR move to an even greater extent."
Nikonov agrees. "The Union of Right-Wing
Forces is in trouble," he
said. "All opinion polls show that the SPS is balancing on
the 5% line..."