We can only speculate about the next Duma lineup. The latest surveys conducted by major Russian pollsters suggest the house will be dominated by three parties, including United Russia, the Communist Party and, probably, the Liberal Democratic Party.
When wondering why Russia’s parliament does not turn out as many legislative acts as it did in early post-Soviet years, we should keep in mind just how dramatically our lifestyles and system of government have changed. We moved away from socialism in the 1990s to rebuild our society on a capitalist model. This transition required a fundamental, comprehensive change in legislation. A massive regulatory vacuum appeared in legislation on economics, business and civil affairs. It was of vital importance that new bills were drafted, passed, and amended or revised later as appropriate.
This seems to be perfectly in line with the logic of democratic development. The number of laws on the statute book should diminish, and they should be amended gradually – rather than be subject to radical change. There are loopholes that need to be closed. The number of laws in force is an indicator as to the state of society. In times of transition a nation passes more laws than it does during a period of stability.
Therefore this recent decline in the State Duma’s output does not mean the lawmakers are idling. It is just that the process has changed; they have shifted from “major repair work” to minor decoration.
Some observers argue that the Duma is losing its independence. But this trend, too, is hardly surprising. The transition to proportional representation has brought about changes to our political system. United Russia, which emerged as the party of state bureaucracy, came to power following a landslide election victory, and its advent changed the parliamentary lineup beyond recognition.
Voters can always make a difference, though. If United Russia retains its constitutional majority, winning two-thirds of the vote in December’s polls, the trends we are witnessing in the current State Duma will continue. But then again, it is only natural that a party set up by the Establishment should push through legislation benefitting their group interests.
At this point, we can only speculate about the next Duma lineup. The latest surveys conducted by major Russian pollsters suggest the house will be dominated by three parties, including United Russia, the Communist Party and, probably, the Liberal Democratic Party.
The Just Russia party is currently balancing on the 7% threshold. Right Cause is still a few steps behind, but may well make it into the Duma in December if its new energetic leader, Mikhail Prokhorov, runs a smart campaign.