MOSCOW, February 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Opposition parties in Russia have announced plans to form a grand "coalition" of several liberal forces. The process was initiated by the leaders of the unregistered Party of National Freedom (PARNAS), the former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, the former first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, and Vladimir Ryzhkov, the former leader of the "Our Home is Russia" party.
Kasyanov and Nemtsov said that negotiations on forming a coalition will take place after the presidential election. The current phase of discussions have been declared as "consultative". Mikhail Kasyanov described the likely outcome as a "broad coalition of liberal Democrats in one megaparty".
Russian financial paper Kommersant yesterday predicted who is likely to enter into the new party: Grigory Yavlinsky's party Yabloko, ex-world chess champion Gary Kasparov's "Solidarity" movement and the remnant of the disbanded Union of Right Forces. The supporters of Alexei Kudrin, Mikhail Prokhorov and Alexei Navalny are also enrolled.
Nemtsov yesterday predicted that the party might be able to command 30% of votes in the next parliamentary elections. However, according to the independent research organization Levada Center, the share of Russians who want to see Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to leave office is just 6%.
Equally problematic for the opposition, the composition of politically disgruntled Russians is extremely divided. The majority of opposition support lies with the left, which is itself divided between support for Gennady Zyuganov, and others who have decided to boycott the elections.
The idea that these disparate forces can be united into one political coalition is being seen in some quarters as more a signal to potential Western sponsors than an appeal to the current political reality. Alexei Navalny's supporters, for example, are far right nationalists who are unlikely ascribe to a liberal set of policies.
As one Kremlin source noted, "without the support of the far right and left, the opposition shrinks to a minority liberal camp. Mikhail Prokhorov, for example, is now clearly in the ascendancy, and after the presidential elections, in which he has a chance of finishing in third place, he will almost certainly form a party of his own."
According to the analysis of the skeptics, Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko is the only party that has any appeal beyond a small caucus of Moscow intellectuals. But Yavlinsky has always distanced himself from the liberal ideology, emphasizing the social-democratic character of his party. And because of the personal relationship with the current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Grigory Yavlinsky will never support any radical anti-Putin platform.
On close examination, then, the megablock of liberal parties seems unlikely to achieve anything other than some Western-friendly publicity.
SOURCE Russia Insights