Nikolai Petrov, scholar in residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center, writes in the Moscow Times about the upcoming Russian regional elections, which will precede the first State Duma elections to be held under an excusively closed-list electoral system.
What we are witnessing is a serious reformatting of the country’s political party structure. What is referred to elsewhere as the political landscape looks more like a political seed-bed in Russia.
Ah, an analogy after my own heart (even if he expands upon it with reference to vegetables).
There are also various young gardeners competing to see whose plants grow best. The two main groups vying for the green-thumb prize are those surrounding Vladislav Surkov and Igor Sechin, both presidential deputy chiefs of staff, and Sechin’s folks are rapidly gaining ground on Surkov’s.
The nominal leaders of the two columns that appear likely to form the backbone of the party system following the 2007 Duma elections are the Duma’s current speaker, Boris Gryzlov, and Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov…
After the latest moves, all you have to do is throw Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party, also cozy with the party of power, into the mix and the Kremlin should be guaranteed complete control of the lower house.
Going back to the immediate post-USSR elections, the State Duma has been elected under a MMM system (parallel, half single-seat districts with plurality, half nationwide closed-list PR). Putin and his allies have changed the system to all closed-list PR in, incredibly, a single nationwide district. This new system, in conjunction with various other limits on free expression and assocation, will allow the Kremlin leaders to manage the main parties from the top. Rules also prevent the formation of multi-party lists:
This fall’s [regional assembly] elections will be the first held under new rules stipulating that a member of one party cannot be present on another party’s list. This is the Kremlin’s way of preventing the formation of loose alliances — like that between SPS and Yabloko in Moscow elections — that parties set up after the formation of official blocs was banned.
And I think the following is an innovation in list construction:
There is even a reality-show element in a new United Russia project, in which young people compete to fill one-fifth of the spaces on the United Russia party list.
Interestingly, Russia follows Ukraine in abandoning MMM for pure national-district closed-list PR, although the motivations of the move and the degree of inter-party competition in the two countries are quite different.