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Is multi-party system a benefit for Russia?

Read more on:  Political parties, Opposition, Election, Bolotnaya Square, Multi party system

11:09 10/09/2012
Co-Chair of the People's Freedom Party (PARNAS) Mikhail Kasyanov, "United Civil Front" leader Garry Kasparov and blogger Alex Navalny (left to right background) during the March of Millions protest rally from Bolshoi Yakimanka to Bolotnaya Square.

Last spring, Dmitry Medvedev signed a law on easing procedures for political party registration. The law has reduced the number of people required for the formation of a party to 500. As of today, the Justice Ministry has already registered more than 30 political parties. Speaking at the Seliger-2012 forum on August 1, President Vladimir Putin said that the multi-party system makes it possible to assess the real public support of each political force. Valdaiclub.com asked General Director of the Center for Current Politics Sergei Mikheyev to speak about the influence of the multi-party system on the development of civic society in the country.

Was reform truly essential at this stage in the development of Russian society?

It is very difficult to judge this. It was good for the development of the multi-party system, but is this system itself a benefit? This is a disputable issue. It depends on the results that this reform will lead to. We shouldn't idolize the multi-party system. Society wanted a change and the government met it halfway. Let's wait and see what this will lead to.

To what extent does this number of parties reflect the spectrum of political views in Russian society?

At any rate, these are not the last 30 parties that will be registered by the Justice Ministry. Needless to say, the four parties that are represented in Russian parliament – United Russia, the Communist Party, A Just Russia and the Liberal-Democratic Party – do not reflect the entire spectrum of opinions in society. That said, projects are likely to appear that are completely empty.

It is difficult to understand to what extent the recently registered parties will reflect the political spectrum of Russian society. For the time being, they are doing nothing.  Let's see what they will do. Will they take part in elections? Will people vote for them?

I think it is still too early to say how positively or negatively the multi-party system will affect the development of civil society. As the saying goes, when the blossom first comes out, berries soon will have to sprout.

Many people are worried about the emergence of nationalist parties. Do you think we should be concerned over their growing role?

On the contrary, many people are happy about their emergence. It is hard to say whether these parties have more supporters or opponents and who's right – the former or the latter. But in any event it is abundantly clear that this common political trend cannot be ignored. It is pointless to allow liberal parties and to prohibit a single nationalist one, because such policy will be obviously lop-sided. If we do this, we'll be feigning the impression that nationalist attitudes do not exist in our society, whereas in fact, they do exist. It is better to allow nationalists to operate on a legal political field than let them go underground.

Why didn't the opposition that staged rallies on Bolotnaya Square join the ranks of one and the same party?

The people who gathered on Bolotnaya Square were very different. They were united by the refusal to accept the election results. Other than that, they have completely different views. Under some other circumstances, they might have opposed each other. They are not likely to share many ideas. Most probably, they have nothing in common. Some parties will create a bloc, but the opposition is most unlikely to unite into a single political force by 2016.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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