|"WHAT WE ALL CAN DO FOR EACH OF US"|
By Alexandre Strokanov, PhD.,
Professor of History at Gardner-Webb University, North Carolina, USA
The base of the analysis.
This article analyses the official appeals, platforms and programs of the major political parties and electoral blocs participating in the elections to the State Duma in December 1999. All of these documents were downloaded from the respective Internet pages of these major players in the coming elections. They are:
Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF):”Our Vast Country, Rise Up” - Appeal to patriots of Russia , “The Strategy of Growth”- Basic directions of economic program.
Internet address: http://www.kprf.ru
Yabloko: “Future. Trust. Security” - The Program of Yabloko on the Elections of Deputies of the State Duma, 1999.
Internet address: http://www.yabloko.ru
Fatherland-All Russia (OVR): The Manifest of Electoral Bloc “Otechestvo - Vsya Rossiya”, The Elections Platform of the Electoral Bloc “Otechestvo-Vsya Rossiya.”
Internet address: http://www.luzhkov-otechestvo.ru
Union of Right Forces (SPS): “The Program of Soyuza Pravyx Sil, “Why normal elector has to vote for SPS” (Commentaries to the Right Manifest), “The Right Manifest”- The Program Document, “Freedom and Order- are bases for flourishing of Russia” - An Appeal to the electorate.
Internet address: http://www.pravdelo.ru
Our Home is Russia (NDR): “NDR: 10 Steps in the XXI Century”- The Elections Platform of the Movement “Nash Dom – Rossiya”, “The Program of the Public-Political Movement “Nash Dom-Rossiya.”
Internet address: http://www.ndr.ru
Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR): “About the role of LDPR”- An Appeal of Deputy-Chairman of LDPR Vladislav Shved, “10 Points of the Program of Zhirinovsky.”
Internet address: http://www.ldpr.ru
Edinstvo, but the list of candidates from this bloc called “Medved’”: The Theses to the Platform of the Electoral Bloc “Interregional movement “Edinstvo”
Internet address: http://www.edinstvo.org
The documents used in this article were translated by the author of the article with exception of KPRF’s “Appeal” that was presented in both English and Russian on the web-site.
How do the parties and electoral blocs define themselves in their documents?
Each party and electoral bloc is trying to establish the particular image in the minds of the readers of their documents.
KPRF states that it leads a movement of the people united by ideals of Justice, Statehood, and Sovereignty of the People, Spirituality and Patriotism, also mentioning that “Socialism is inseparable from these ideals.” The party presents their major objectives in the following way: “To save the Russian people from extinction, To strengthen state integrity and the country’s unity, To stave off the economic collapse.” Their major slogans are: “Honest labour and well-being, Restoration of justice and socialists ideals, People regaining their wealth, honour and dignity of the great Russian people, Peace and Accord among nations, Merciless struggle with crime and corruption, Russia’s victory.”
The mottoes of KPRF are “Prosperity through Order” and “Our Cause is just and we stand to win!”
Yabloko presents itself as a “democratic, civic party” which is a “democratic opposition to the current power” and whose major priorities are priority of a man and main human values: goodwill, love, and morality. Explaining its stance, the program of Yabloko states: “In a public sphere these values reflect principles of people’s sovereignty, civic freedoms and separation of powers. In economic sphere we are for modern market economy with strong social policy and minimal but effective state regulations.”
The program provides the following characteristics of Yabloko: We are reformers, We are patriots, We are supporters of the State (gosudarstvenniki), and Yabloko is against any sort of radicalism. It also gives points that distinguish the party from the others:
-Yabloko is a party of citizens and not a party of bosses (nachal?nikov),
-Yabloko is a party of united Russia, and not a party of appanage princes,
-Yabloko is a party of future, party of hope and not a party of yesterday,
-Yabloko is for honest politics and reforms in the interests of majority and not just selected.
There are several principles on which the party based its policy. They are: Responsibility, Morality, Predictability, and Professionalism
The motto of Yabloko’s program is “Future. Trust. Security.”
SPS announces itself as a bloc of liberals who in the last 10 years were the major creative base and source of ideas for reforms in the Russian society. The program of SPS states that they are not radicals, moreover they are supporters of moderation, and civil accord, even more than others are but only when it is possible. Meanwhile, when circumstances demanded decisive actions and speedy reaction, modern Russian liberals proved that they could act. Initial radicalism of SPS reforms could be explained by the colossal scale of an approaching catastrophe.
The main idea of SPS is freedom, the freedom guaranteed by democracy. Other main slogans of this bloc are: Russia is a European democratic country, Freedom and Order, Separation of business and power, Push a slave out of your self, New Justice - to make good money from a well done job and to pay the real price for everything.
Probably, we can use their phrase as an SPS motto: “Forward. Only Forward! Our Cause is Right, We shall win!”
OVR introduces itself as a union of patriotic and democratic forces of the country, that unite the people of action, honour and consciousness, capable to take responsibility for the fate of the Motherland. OVR is an electoral bloc of those who are concerned about the state, those who want to prevail over the vacuum of power and rejection of the country by the Kremlin, and those who want to restore in full capacity all functions and efficiency of the state.
OVR believes that the strengthening and consolidation of the state is the link of the chain that we should pull to take all of Russia out of crisis. Among their slogans are:
We are for a strong state capable to save united, indivisible, federal, and multinational Russia, for implementing changes in the interests of Russian people, defending their rights and freedoms, providing the growth of their prosperity, guaranteeing the social directions of the market reforms; We are for Order based on Law.
The Manifest of OVR states that their life principle is targeting to the concrete actions for the name of Russia and her people, and their program includes laws of first priority for the country, reform of the Constitution, strengthening of the state.
The motto of OVR is “Together we shall win! Together We Shall Revive Russia!”
NDR presents its major goal as the victory in elections to the State Duma and formation of a strong, constructive right-centre fraction, which is capable of acting in it. NDR considers itself as a guarantor of political stability and economic reforms in the country and promises to provide a new level of responsibility of the state before the society.
NDR has one of the shortest platforms (only “10 points of the program of Zhirinovsky” is shorter) where it offers their Ten steps to the XXI century in a very brief form. This may be explained by the fact that the Program of NDR as a political movement is a relatively fresh document, because it was adopted just on April 1999 and may serve as the detailed platform on the current elections.
NDR announces its main social goal, which is to secure people with jobs. It also promises to make Russian government strong and stable and the Parliament responsible. Finally, it promises to return the pride for Russia to each citizen. NDR calls the current elections as the elections of hope and break into future - future of freedom and development, based on talents and energy of our people, on their best traditions. Their slogans are: “We believe in the right choice of people of Russia!”, “We believe in our capability to build the future of our Motherland together with the citizens of Russia!”
The motto of NDR is “We Believe in Russia - Our Common Home!”
LDPR appeals to people as the only party with a leader capable to revive the glory of Russia. LDPR calls itself as the most dynamically developing party in the country, the second party by membership, the basic and the only force, with help of which democrats of Russia will be capable to take power using the democratic way, stopping the fall of Russia into disaster. The secret of the LDPR’s success story is the personality of its leader - Vladimir Zhirinovsky who posses firm political wills, phenomenal political sense and powerful energy.
The major goals of LDPR formulated by Zhirinovsky are to save Fatherland, to defend Russian people and to rescue the whole planet from the catastrophe.
The motto can be “The Future is with LDPR and its Leader - Vladimir Zhirinovsky.”
The bloc Edinstvo (Medved’) announces its major goal to unite all Russian people, capable to build the renewed state. It stresses that their unity is based not on the political base, but on the interest of regions, to which politics has no relations.
How the programs evaluate the present situation in the country and see the ways out of the crisis?
Certainly, parties and blocs expressed criticism towards the present day conditions in the country and consider it a deep crisis. Meanwhile, they see the reasons for this crisis very differently and place responsibility for it on others, though some recognise their own mistakes that have led to the present situation.
KPRF takes the most blatant position, announcing that “Our country is in danger!” and presenting the current reality as a “regime of criminal dictatorship.” In the “Appeal to the patriots of Russia” you can read that “An oligarchy of thieves has seized power in the country by means of treachery, bribery and lies... Russia’s foes are seeking not only to appropriate its national wealth. They are trying to break our spirit, to destroy our culture, to turn us into dumb slaves and deprive us of our rights.” At the same time, KPRF recognises that there is still a chance to change the situation in a peaceful and democratic way. For that purpose, new popular State Duma and an efficient president should be elected, and a strong and competent government should be formed.
Announcing its democratic opposition to the present power, Yabloko presents the list of disagreements with it, which may be considered as characteristics of the current situation. They are:
a) Creation of the corrupted economic regime in the country, the regime of personal power and the tendency of conversion of the president into a monarch with unlimited power.
b) Existence of authoritarian regimes in the subjects of the Federation.
c) Appointment to important positions in the state according to the principle of personal loyalty.
d) Multiple embarrassments on the international arena.
Yabloko also clearly rejects the policy of radical “Democrats-Bolsheviks” on the revolutionary break of traditional way of life, as well as their denial of the past.
In its turn, SPS says that the direction of the development of Russia is right, and the reforms already have saved the country from the catastrophe. SPS recognises that reforms have not brought prosperity to the people, but states that it was impossibility anyway.
The documents of SPS blame the crisis primarily on inheritance of the communist regime and the obstructive positions of the State Duma, which was dominated by the left political forces.
They admit mistakes made by reformers, but in a very interesting way. “If we have a chaos now in several positions it is not because of the reforms, but because they were implementing poorly or have not reached the goals.” Among such mistakes SPS names:
a) Concessions in the budget policy, particularly toleration of the budget deficit and the growing state debt.
b) Unnecessary rush in privatisation of objects of infrastructure and the inclusion in the program, the so-called, second model of privatisation, when 51% of shares went to collectives of workers on the enterprises.
c) Underestimation of importance of the Parliament, the public policy and too many compromises with other political forces.
SPS sees that the current Russia is still on the intersection of two ways into the future, one is the free competitive market, and another is the “capitalism of nomenklatura.” These two tendencies were struggling between themselves already for several years, and this fact explains that Russia’s transformation to market economy went through one of the most conservative, slowest and painful ways. It was the “capitalism of nomenklatura” which succeeded after the financial crisis in August 1998 and today its supporters do not need liberal reformers. Meanwhile, the country objectively needs to accelerate the reforms. Russia has already covered about one third of the way and the market economy is functioning, but it has to continue to move forward. Equally important to develop the democratic achievements, which are under threat from communist and nationalist forces, bureaucracy, and criminal elements.
An important distinguishing characteristic of SPS is the insistence on the denial of any specifics of Russia, its culture and people, as well as any necessity for the correction of the reforms based on such specifics. SPS denies a search for the state ideology and ideas of special spirituality of Russian people, their inclination towards “Sobornost’”, collectivism and so on. “The Right Manifest” states “We decisively reject all such attempts and confirm that they are harmful and embarrassing for Russian people, for all the people of our country.” SPS strongly believes that the “Choice is made.” There is no need for any special way. Let’s throw away dangerous, imperial illusions, and build a normal civilised society in which living peacefully and prosperously will be possible without making any inhuman efforts. Let’s live like in Europe, but speak Russian.
OVR and NDR do not devote any special parts in their elections programs to the analysis of the current situation in the country but these documents certainly contain some comments in this regard. Usually, it was presented through recommended changes that are needed for Russia currently. It may be explained by the more centrist positions of these blocs, as well as by the realisation of their own responsibility for the present “status quo”, because of the powerful positions of many members of these blocs in the provinces. However, NDR characterises the present situation as a “Politically helpless Government, politically irresponsible Parliament, and a President incapable of managing all of this - all of these give birth to chaos of laws, decisions, and frequent changes of officials, corruption and absence of a normal successive policy.”
Edinstvo believes that political power in the modern Russia is realising without any system. The essence of the current political class in Russia is a bureaucracy. Russia has a crisis of system and can not develop itself successfully before relationship between people and the state will not being established from the position of priority of interests of a man. The country needs a radical reconstruction of legislative activity.
What to do with the economy?
An analysis of elections programs and platforms of major political parties and blocs shows that they all in general terms have pro-market positions. At the same time their vision of a market economy is significantly different. The major point of disagreement may be seen in the role of the state in regulation of the economic development.
For instance, KPRF presents a so-called “pragmatic understanding of market relations.” The description of this understanding is the following: “Modern market economy is a mixed multidimensional economy. It has flexible state regulations and market mechanisms, provides social guarantees and opportunities for personal initiative, and it has different forms of ownership of property and economic activities, it recognising the specifics of concrete sectors of the economy. Successful social-economic development of Russia assumes the formation of a national model of the economy with a clear social orientation, an active role of the state and collectives of employees, and a high innovative and intellectual potential.... Such national model on the modern stage is the essence of a socialist market economy, combining planning of social-economic development and mechanisms of market competition, recognition of public interest and development of private initiative.”
The economic program of KPRF suggests using an “indicative planning method,” including one, five and fifteen-year cycles. It will reflect national accord on priorities of the development and decrease uncertainty and instability of the market. The state must save responsibility for the development of the energy sector, transportation, social and economic infrastructure, and science-based industries.
The program of OVR calls the state as “conductor” of the economic development, which has to provide orientation and motivation for the growth of national production, and its efficiency and ability to compete on the legal bases. OVR suggests adopting laws directed to increase the regulatory role of the state, protect the domestic market, support the market reforming of industries, improve the responsibility of managers, and assure in the appearance of efficient owners.
Yabloko does not stress heavily on the importance of the state regulations, though it mentions the necessity to revive the trust of the people towards the state. Only SPS supports to decrease the state interference in the economy and to limit its functions, saving only those which can not be implemented by anybody or can be implemented by the state in the most efficient way. SPS states that it does not deny the role of the state in support to export oriented industries and perspective science-based production. Meanwhile, this bloc considers a state more as an obstacle in an economic development and free entrepreneurship. SPS program insists on the position that more state regulations produce less efficiency and more corruption. A state is not an efficient owner and it must decrease its ownership of shares in enterprises to a minimum. The more functions a state has in an economy, the higher are the taxes in the country.
Every party and bloc considers as its main economic task to assure the beginning of stable economic growth. KPRF is providing even concrete figures, particularly mentioning possibility to achieve an annual gross economic growth at the rate of 10 %; 15 % in the industrial production, and a 5 % increase in the agricultural sector. Such growth, in the opinion of the Russian communists, will give an opportunity to return to the pre-crisis level. It will be accomplished on the new technical and quality bases in 5 years. It will take 10 years to return to the level of developed countries in quality of life and intellectual potential of country, and even become a world leader in several key positions.
The increase in the production can be achieved through:
a) Growth of income of the population,
b) The replacement of import by domestically made goods,
c) The development of credits for purchase domestic consumer products and a state supported system of leasing on equipment and transport,
d) Finally, the restoration of lost savings in the course of reforms with using them for purchase of domestic goods, improvement of living conditions, and payments for utilities.
It will require also, according to KPRF, the following measures of the state:
- Transformation of structural crisis into managed regime of modernisation of production, the development of a new technological level;
- Decriminalisation of the economy;
- Liquidation of the danger of disintegration of the country, and regional disproportion;
- Rise of salaries, liquidation of a forced mass unemployment;
- Creation of the conditions for an efficient integration of the Russian economy into the world economic system;
- Reconstruction of a single economic space on the territory of CIS.
OVR formulates its strategic goal as a guarantee of dynamic economic growth on the base of technological modernisation, increasing domestic market, cardinal improvements of efficiency of management at all levels of the economy. This bloc wants to change the structure of the export, supporting Russian exporters of final goods, which can be accomplished through new technologies and progress in the real sector: manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, services.
The program of OVR provides its own time-table for the growth of the economy, mentioning the possibility of accomplishing the short-term goal by year 2001, which will have to overcome the depression and provide a stable growth for the economy. The middle-term goal may be achieved by year 2004, which has to narrow a gap in the development between different regions, recover the factors of human potential: healthcare, education, science and the guaranteed new quality of life, compatible with the level of developed countries. In other words, OVR sees the possibility for an even faster economic recovery and significant improvement in quality of life than the Russian communists.
Other parties and blocs do not provide their timetables for the recovery of the Russian economy from the crisis. Though, SPS wants the country to achieve economic growth at least 4-5% annually in the next 15-20 years, it warns, at the same time, that the way will be uneasy and we shall wait for the expected results for a long time. This is, as they say, the truth, and all illusions should be thrown away. In the short perspective SPS recommends the state to accomplish the three main tasks. They are: empowerment of the institution of the state in the dimension of legality and law obedience, protection of rights and freedoms, security of society and businesses; “separation of power and money,” power must be open for public control; guarantee of a balance between income and obligations of the state. It also suggests cancelling all unneeded limitations on freedom of enterprise, adopting legislation, which prohibit combining functions of power with economic functions in the state structures.
The focus of Yabloko’s program is to assure economic growth based on stimulation of the development of legal sector of the economy, capable to fill budget and pushing the economy out of the “shadow.” For that purpose the state has to guarantee the legalisation of savings and their use for investments, to attract foreign investments, and the use of foreign credits obtained with a low percentage rate in a very limited way. Government must be predictable, have a real budget, and efficiently use the state resources: shares in companies state reserves, property in foreign countries. It also has to develop honest and stable relations with investors and have an open position on negotiations about the foreign debt.
NDR takes similar positions, stressing the necessity of citizens trusting their own state and the state obligation to protect domestic and foreign capital working in the economy.
For Edinstvo (Medved’) the right economic policy is, first of all, the right selection of people fulfilling it. It wants the Russian economy to improve the life of the majority and not just fill the pockets of the oligarchy.
LDPR suggests establishing a state monopoly on alcohol, tobacco and sugar, working on the state program of sales of weapons and other military equipment, and providing the state guarantee to people’s banking accounts, governmental support to science, and the development of new technologies.
In the aspect of structural policy, almost all programs and platforms support the priority of the development of the sectors of the economy that have export potential: aeronautic and space industries, energy producing equipment, including nuclear, computer and programming products. Yabloko adds shipbuilding to this list. KPRF has the longest list of industries that should receive priority attention and state support, including biotechnology, and medical and educational supplies.
All parties and blocs agree on the necessity to improve the situation with house construction. SPS comes up with an idea, which is remarkably reminiscent of the program of the Soviet government of providing each family with a separate apartment until the year 2000. SPS plans are even more ambitious. This bloc introduces the program “My House”, which is designed to provide EVERY FAMILY with an opportunity to purchase in credit on affordable conditions a comfortable HOUSE with land. The realisation of this goal will stimulate the development of wood processing, construction, and automobile industries. The position of Yabloko is much more careful, it only promises the Russian people affordable living space. In its turn, Yabloko comes with another “fresh” idea – “to create a people’s automobile.”
Most of programs mention support to an agro-industrial complex and transportation. Particularly, KPRF suggests considering as a priority, the production of aeroplanes of a new generation, a modernisation of the system of management on the railways, the reconstruction and construction of new airports, seaports, railway stations, and automobile roads.
At the same time it is not really clear where the money for all of this will come from. OVR suggests using some profit coming from sales of oil and gas. Yabloko wants to attract domestic and foreign investments in the development of large and complicated deposits of raw materials, using the law on agreements on sharing production. This party also suggests developing 10-15 large national investment projects with complex of privileges that are confirmed by law. The scale of thinking for people from OVR is much larger; they are talking about 500 projects that should become the locomotives of the economic growth of Russia in XXI century. Actually, this term – “locomotives” is very popular in the programs, even SPS has their “locomotives of the economy.”
Most of the programs talk about the privatisation and protection of rights of investors and small shareholders. This aspect in the Yabloko program is probably the most elaborated. It mentions the necessity of adopting laws that will protect property rights, support the development of a stock exchange, market of real estates, mortgage, and guarantee rights of small shareholders over management of companies. The Yabloko program stresses the need for changing the goals of privatisation, from its use primarily as a source of income for the state budget to encouragement of efficient management and attraction of investments to the privatising enterprises. It also recalls the question on a mechanism of bankruptcy, which has to work. Yabloko certainly doesn’t call for administrative changes in the results of privatisation, but it calls to provide an analysis of state auctions and court actions in situations when the investor has not fulfilled his obligations. It encourages the state to sell property to only reliable investors.
At the same time, KPRF surprises with this aspect in their program even more. First of all, it ensures that those who bought the state property legally shouldn’t worry at all. There will be no confiscation, suggested by the communists. Meanwhile, there will be an investigation on the results of privatisation. Consequently, on the base of court actions will be void all illegal deals on the purchase of the state property, it also should happen when new private owners have not fulfilled their obligations.
Second, KPRF’s program calls for:
a) Reorganisation of the system of management of the state property and expresses support to laws that will guarantee to potential investors credible information about enterprises, in which they are going to invest.
b) Protection of rights of shareholders, increase the responsibility of management before shareholders and collectives of employees.
Finally, this party continues its support to private employee-owned companies and rights of collectives of employees to participate in decision-making process in the enterprises where they work.
The position of OVR is stated in this way: there will be no nationalisation of the already privatised property, but the future privatisation in the country must be based on the law which provides clear legal procedure in accordance with international norms. NDR’s program also stresses the necessity of guarantee to investors of full control over activity of management and making stock exchange open with protection of rights of any investors.
Edinstvo (Medved’) believes that most important today, is not property and ownership on it, by itself, but the efficient management of it. This bloc wants the state to guarantee owners their rights, but in exchange, to demand efficient management, creation of good labour conditions and salary for employees
LDPR places in their program two popular positions: amnesty to those who will return their money from foreign banks back to Russia and state guarantee of people’s accounts in private banks.
Another aspect is ownership of land, which received special attention in almost every program. SPS and NDR clearly state their position: private property on land is needed; people should have the right to buy and sell their land, including agricultural land. NDR stresses additionally, that without it, there will be no investments in agriculture and it will be impossible to develop mortgage system. Yabloko only makes a really general statement about the importance of private ownership of land.
OVR makes another interesting move, suggesting solving the issue through regional decisions on ownership of land. S. Shoigu has echoed this idea in his report on the Congress of Edinstvo. Though, in the official document of this bloc the suggested formula in this regard is far from to clear. Edinstvo stands for the right of ownership on land. Only then, it says, the real master will come and humiliating dependency of Russia on food from other countries will be left in the past. It is still unclear what type of ownership Edinstvo has in the mind, and whether it will allow the sales of agricultural lands or not.
KPRF does not change its position, rejecting private ownership on agricultural land completely and stating “Land is a property of all people, there will be no sales of agricultural land, because it will lead to expulsion of peasants from their land. Land should be confirmed for those who live and work on it.”
The programs reflect the developing understanding in the Russian political establishment, of the necessity of tax reform and the shifting tax burden from producer to consumer. Such position is expressed in every program and platform. The program of KPRF suggests decreasing the VAP tax, the income tax and payments from salary funds, and moving the tax burden from domestic production to import. Yabloko focuses on the need for the simplification of the tax system, which will increase the opportunity for control. Another important point of Yabloko’s proposals is a set of measures on how to legalise “shadow economy and incomes.” This party provides probably the most detailed plan for tax reform in its program. Yabloko suggests decreasing the tax rate on profit from 35% to 20%. It wants to decrease the income tax to 10%, to develop a regressive table of social payments and widen the possibility for deductions of expenses made inside the country from a taxable income.
Many of Yabloko’s ideas were echoed by OVR, particularly the cancellation of taxes that are difficult to control, deductions from taxable money sums spent on improvement and development of new technologies, medical expenses from the income tax of population, and so on. OVR also recommends to decrease a spectre of tax privileges, suggesting not tax privileges for special social groups, but a direct assistance from the budget. However, the same OVR wants to make the tax regime easy for enterprises located in polar areas.
The specific of the SPS program is their proposal for a 12% flat rate income tax.
All parties and blocs presented opinions on the monetary policy in their programs. Several common positions can be seen here. They are:
Negotiations with the western countries on cutting down the debt inherited from the Soviet Union, and the restructuring of the debt of the Russian government which appeared after 1991.
The budget discipline, the struggle against corruption, the fight with the crisis of non-payments, the increase of income from the use of the state property and natural resources, more efficiency in state expenses, and a new customs policy.
KPRF comes up with the proposition for reorientation of the financial policy on stimulation of production and investments through a softening policy of financial supplies and taking measures to prevent the fly of money into financial speculations and the currency market. Communists suggest de-commercialisation of the Central Bank, measures directed on the revival of the banking system, and increasing the role of commercial banks with the participation of the state. Finally, they want to see the Russian rouble as a reserve currency in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Yabloko wants to develop programs of payments of debts to Russia by members of CIS and other countries, and conversion of part of these debts into state property.
SPS remains on the same positions in regards of the monetary policy, stating that “emission is categorically unacceptable.” Leaders of this bloc are even ready to delay investment projects with participation of the state to achieve financial stabilisation. They repeat their credo: “support to a stable national currency based on a healthy budget and financial discipline, an increase in currency reserves, and the return of trust to the rouble.”
The specific of the program of OVR is their concern with the development of budget federalism on the base of efficient distribution of responsibility and opportunities between federal and regional budgets. NDR program contains an idea to increase a share of banking services provided by foreign banks on the Russian market.
The social policy is another area, to which all of the programs devoted significant attention.
KPRF wants to establish a system of social standards on free health, social care, and education. This means existence of centres providing free medical assistance, state sanatoriums, state health insurance, the right to receive free higher education on university level on the base of competition, and free living space for some categories of the population.
The program especially stresses the necessity of raising the salary level and the guarantee by the state of a level of minimum income, which can not be lower than survival minimum, calculated for every region separately. KPRF also wishes to establish a legal maximum level of unemployment, which can not exceed 1% of economically active population.
These ideas are echoed by OVR, which in its turn comes with an idea of hourly payment for labour and recommends the special attention to salaries in the budget sector. OVR’s program suggests a new retirement policy, which will combine shares, provided by the state, enterprise and employee himself. It also encourages the development of private medical centres alongside with the state-owned and recommends using taxes paid by private clinics to support free medicine.
Yabloko’s program proposes to gradually narrow the existing gap between the income of some categories of the population and the survival minimum. It recommends transforming social assistance on the base of addressed aid, based on an appeal for it from concrete individuals. It also supports non-state pensions and increase of salaries in the budget sector, available free education and medical services including hospital assistance with minimum guaranteed medications, equipment and other supplies, as well as free and efficient medical emergency services.
At the same time, Yabloko’s program has several ideas on the development of a single educational and cultural space in the country. They are:
Establishment of autonomy of educational organisations, providing a wide diversity of educational opportunities, education by choice, oriented on demands from person, society, and country.
Effective municipal school as the base of a democratic school system.
Openness in financing of education and in demands to schools and students.
Protection of rights of children and the development of a juvenile justice.
It also encourages the availability of paid medical services and voluntary medical insurance. Yabloko’s program pays special attention to the needs of science and scientists.
The position of SPS is different to some extent. It wants to cancel most of the privileges for some categories of population who do not need them and pay subsidies based on appeal and strong control over necessity in such aid from the state. It repeats the ideas on pension reforms with use of the distributive-accumulative system and personal pension accounts, where money will come from citizens and enterprises, and the creation of the state and non-state pension funds.
SPS supports to reforms of health care and education where the main idea is competition between the state and non-state structures, including the idea popular among many Republicans in the United States about money vouchers for schools when “the money follows the students.” Interesting, but no clear statement is made in the program about the reform of labour relations, which promises more space for legal manoeuvre for employers.
How to put our state in order?
This question is not less important for major Russian parties and blocs. All of them express the desire to see Russia as a strong federal and multinational country with good records of respect for human rights and freedoms, absence of crime, corruption and abuse of power, priority of laws and constitutional order. They want to see Russia as a country with peace among nations and ethnic groups. The country developing civic society, guaranteeing openness of power for control by citizens and their active participation in democratic mechanism of forming of power on its every level, the separation of different branches of power, and a working system of checks and balances.
The programs reflect the developing accord among major players in Russian politics on the necessity of the Constitutional Reform. This position is presented in every program. However, the vision of this reform is far from unanimous. Most of programs agree on a need for a more balanced distribution of authority among branches of power and a clearer defining of the field of responsibility of each of them in the Constitution, and particularly presidential power.
At the same time, OVR wants for the State Duma to have a constitutional right to force government to resign in a case of two successful non-confidence votes in a three months period. The Duma should have the right to decide on the appointments of ?force ministers?, financial minister and minister of foreign affairs. Yabloko’s program calls only for an increase of the role of Government and its Chairman, who is appointed by the President, with support from the Duma. SPS states that they consider the question about limitations on the rights of President to form government as important.
Only NDR’s program goes further by saying that the President does not have to interfere in the job of Government. Let the Government and the majority of the Duma, which supports to the Government, handles it. The task of the President is to guarantee human rights, rule of law in the country and to take responsibility for questions of foreign policy, defence and national security. NDR thinks that the Government in Russia is weak because it depends on a will of one man - the President. The Government is weak and fragile because it can not rely on the firm and active support of the majority in the State Duma. There is only one way to strengthen Russian Government, it is to form it, having support from the will of the people reflected in elections of the Parliament. NDR suggests forming the government by party or coalition of parties, who win the December elections and ensures majority in the State Duma. In other words, NDR calls for a Government responsible before the State Duma, most likely coalitional government. According to this program it will make the Duma politically responsible and ruling parties more mature, because they will be held responsible before the people for the results of the course of the Government. Only such parliament will be responsible and only such government will receive support to its legal initiatives in the most complete way.
In its turn, Edinstvo (Medved’) believes that Russia should remain a Presidential republic, though some widening of the Duma authority is necessary, if it has responsible Deputies, as well as, some empowerment of the Government will be good also if real professionals are appointed.
Another debatable issue of the constitutional reform is the Federation policy. All programs support to the status quo in the model of the Federation and elections of heads of regional administrations. The exception is only LDPR, whose program calls for a new administrative division of the country, based on territorial principle and the creation of 20-30 regions (gubernii).
However, parties and blocs express concern over the existing threat to the single legal and economic system of the country, deriving from separatism and unconstitutional activities of some regional administrators. Programs support the development of a legal mechanism of interference of the Federal power in the regional affairs when it threatens the territorial integrity of Russia, or associated with brutal violation of the Russian Constitution, Federal laws, and rights of the people. These positions were presented in the programs of Yabloko, SPS and NDR in the most defined way.
SPS suggests direct presidential rule in such regions; NDR supports forced resignation even an elected official if he or she violates laws or the Constitution, as well as, cancelling an illegal legislation that contradicts Federal laws and the Constitution.
Yabloko’s program provides a set of additional measures in this regard. It stresses the necessity to guarantee the real independence of the Federal court, the territorial offices of the State Prosecutor and the departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs from the regional administrations. It suggests to develop a mechanism for bringing regional legal acts in accordance with Federal laws, including a “preventive control” on the stage of their preparation; to provide citizens and pubic organisations with the right to appeal in court to those regional acts that violate Federal laws and the Constitution.
From another hand, OVR stresses the country’s need to develop a balance between the centre and the subjects of the Federation. This program appeals that Russia is strong not just by unity, but also by diversity of its separate parts. The inner diversity of Russia is not a weakness but a source of development and enrichment. OVR wishes to develop the Russian Federalism in a way that the status of a subject of the Russian Federation will become an object of pride of each republic and region, the honorary right and not a tightening responsibility. The program suggests adopting a law, which will define the procedures of acceptance, withdrawal and change of status of a subject in the Federation, as well as procedures of solution of conflicts between the centre and the subjects. It also advises to reconsider the budget policy and define the mechanism and procedures of formation of the state budget on all levels, and finally recommends respecting the right of each territory to save and develop their specifics.
Among other proposals for the Constitutional reform, OVR suggests new chapters in the Constitution about the elections system in the country and on the Office of the State Prosecutor. It recommends increasing the power of the Council of Federation, which has to have more power in the decision-making process over the use of the Military Forces on the territory of the Federation. At the same time, Yabloko suggests to change the way of forming the Council of Federation and return to the elections of its Deputies. Edinstvo (Medved’) wants to stop the use of the representative system in the Duma’s election and to have Deputies in the State Duma elected only from single-mandate districts and not from parties lists.
All major parties and blocs expressed their concern about crime and suggested some measures on how to return law and order into the country. One of the popular ideas is a reform of the court system. Programs mention that new courts should be independent from a dictate of executive power, including their financial independence, so that judges, witnesses, and victims are protected from any pressure. The programs of SPS and Yabloko recommend to continue to introduce courts by jury, the latter also wants gradual cancellation of military courts.
Yabloko again provides the most detailed description of needed measures in the struggle against crime. They include:
a) Reform of the Office of the State Prosecutor.
b) Creation of an Investigation Committee which is going to control all investigative activities.
c) Reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the correctional system.
d) Creation of a single, non-state system of notary services.
e) Development of a barrister system (defence lawyers).
This program has a special paragraph on the fight with terrorism, where it recommends to use international experience and to create special anti-terrorist forces, promote a self-organisation of citizens and their education to measures of self-defence and behaviour at the moment of a terrorist attack.
Most of the parties and blocs included positions on the development of regional policy and municipal system in the country in their programs. They agree that some regions deserve special attention from the Government. They may be economically depressed regions, zones of ecological distress and, how Yabloko calls them, “zones of geopolitical risks,” including North Caucasus, Far East, and Kaliningrad region in this category.
Programs express support to the development of municipal power, organs of which have to have its own financial base. Yabloko wants to provide municipal organs with the right to establish their own taxes, as well as to have their own share from federal taxes. Yabloko’s program encourages the development of a real estate market, where municipal organs should play the central role and use it as a firm base for their budgets. This program warns against an abuse of municipal power and concentration of it in the hands of an individual or a small group of people.
NDR included in the program of the movement, a special paragraph supporting the revival of social-moral and cultural traditions of Cossacks, the development of their self-rule system in the areas of their compact settlements. It wants to provide the legal confirmation of their rights and responsibilities in respect to the state service that will make a positive impact on the stabilisation of a situation on the periphery of the Russian State.
Most of the programs have special positions in regards of freedom of speech and mass media. Again, Yabloko comes with the most elaborated position, expressing concern over the fact that mass media often becomes an instrument of mass propaganda in the hands of executive power and large commercial structures. It suggests prohibiting organs of state power on all levels to be founders or own shares of mass media. It will probably help avoid dictate of power-holders, but on what it is going to do about large commercial structures and their dictate this aspect is not very clear in the program. Though, Yabloko recommends establishing strong anti-monopolist conditions in a sphere of production of paper and publishing services, and distribution of media. It wants to provide the media with tax privileges on equal bases and to distribute the budget money for support of media only openly.
The major parties and blocs included in their program demands for the military reform, which will lead to an army, smaller but better in quality of personnel and equipment. They want more civilian control over the military, but at the same time to raise the prestige of the military profession and to improve social and material conditions of the servicemen. Programs stress the importance of the Russian nuclear potential in the defence of the country and want to see more progress in creation of new types of weaponry based on the modern science. OVR, Yabloko, and SPS see in perspective the army based on voluntary and professional system. Moreover, Yabloko wants to accomplish this goal in a 5-year term.
Among other positions, the programs usually express concern of parties and blocs over environmental issues. However, most of statements in these paragraphs have a declaratory character. Probably, some interest may represent only Yabloko statement opposing the acceptance by Russia of any environmentally dirty technologies or production from foreign countries, as well as the use of Russian territory for burial of scrap materials, particularly nuclear.
OVR has a special paragraph on the reform of legislative process in the country which suggests to plan such activity, provide professional expertise of drafts, cut issuing normative acts, which lead to multiple legal contradictions and finally, develop the new Codex of the Russian Laws.
The place of Russia in the world and the foreign policy issues.
At this point, programs again present some similarities and some differences in positions of the major parties and blocs. Most of them agree on such issue as the preference for the country to live in the multi-polar world.
Yabloko program admits, “unfortunately Russia can not pretend on the role of the second pole of power in the world as it was earlier.” It suggests that it have to “try to form an organised and civilised multi-polar world, to struggle with the pretence of the USA and NATO on the mono-polarity and monopoly in the economic, military and political spheres of international life.” This program stresses the fact that ?interests of Russia are connected with the increase of the role of UN and Security Council of UN, regional systems of security, such as OBSE. Yabloko considers the development of equal and mutually beneficial economic and political relations with Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), European Community, and Council of Europe as a priority.
The program of NDR warns against isolationism and wants to see the active development of co-operation of Russia with both European and Asian neighbours. This movement sees in it the key to realisation of the model of inclusion of the country in the modern world and simultaneously its unique contribution in the construction of a new system of security in Eurasia and in the whole world. History is the proof that without organising role of Russia, the Eurasian space will fall apart, producing a chain reaction of unpredictable conflicts. NDR considers CIS as a priority in the foreign policy and wants to bring closer, the budget, tax and customs legal systems of its member-states, as well as to develop the system of their collective security and military co-operation.
The particular interest represents proposals of NDR towards the improvement of ties and the support to the Russian Diaspora in foreign countries. The program suggests to build financial and credit policies of Russia towards neighbouring countries in connection with conditions of life of Russian Diaspora in those countries. It recommends guaranteeing equal conditions to enterprises owned by members of the Russian Diaspora and exporting their products and services to the country, with Russian businesses, to provide financial aid for support to cultural and educational developments of Russian Diaspora.
Edinstvo (Medved’) thinks that Russian foreign policy should work first of all for the Russian economy. Our economic, social and informational space should be open exactly in such measures that it is beneficial for citizens of Russia, and not just for foreigners or international organisations. It also promises to protect interests of Russian citizens in foreign countries and especially if their rights were violated. The document states “ In everyday life and in difficult moments we are ready to come to help of any Russian citizen in any place on the Earth.”
LDPR calls for a new foreign policy which will be oriented first of all at the South and not at the US. Because, it is on the South located the countries that could be and are ready to be our strategic allies, to develop mutually beneficial trade relations with Russia. It is also from the South may come to us the threat of war, encouraged by the America. Good relations with the South - this is a tremendous economy of resources and respect to Russia in Europe.
1.The Elections in the State Duma in December 1999 have a chance to play an important role in the development in Russia the real and working multiparty system with a gradually crystallising plurality of political ideologies and a system of representation in the legislature.
Several parties and blocs take part in this “Day of the People’s Judgement” already not for the first time and have its own ideologies, and electorate. They are KPRF, Yabloko, NDR, and to some extent SPS, which is new in this form, but has pretty much the same leaders, core and ideas as ?Choice of Russia,? which participated in the previous elections.
Among new blocs, OVR and Edinstvo (Medved’) represent most of the interest. The emergence of OVR plays a positive role in the ?normalisation? of Russian democratic politics based on European standards. This bloc may become a real force with its own political platform and even sort of a plan for legislative activity, which places this bloc to the left from the centre.
The story about Edinstvo (Medved’) is different, because it has neither ideology, nor any concrete plans for the future activity in the Duma. It actually looks more just as a new attempt of the Kremlin to prevent the development of a multiparty system and its representation in the Russian Legislature. This bloc has only an appeal to the traditional Russian love of “good guys” who can come and does everything better without all of those “intelligent things such as ideologies, and laws,” where you have to think and make uneasy choices. In other words it is an attempt to exploit not the best side of Russian psychology and mentality of people from “glubinka.”
Another card of the Kremlin in the December elections may be LDPR, which is not new on the political arena, and has even its own electorate, but does not represent a constructive and stable element of the developing multiparty system. At the same time, it may be a better partner for the current power holders in Russia than any other political party. This may be a key to understanding all that mess connected with the registration of the list of LDPR in the representational quote. It could be in plans of Kremlin just a way to attract some attention and to add some votes to the party which “suffered” from the injustice of power. It will probably only help LDPR, whose popularity before the elections was not at its peak.
By summarising everything said above in this paragraph, we are coming to the conclusion that the Kremlin still has no desire for the successful development of a stable multiparty system in Russia and its representation in the State Duma. It wants to be ‘above” parties, ideologies, and to be an independent pole in the Russian society, the pole that can not be checked or balanced by any other political actor. Only the elections will show how successful it was this time.
2. An analysis of the parties’ and blocs’ documents with which they are coming to the people on December elections shows that Russia does not have a strong, completely anti-system party. Though, these documents expressed the dissatisfaction with the status quo in the country’s present conditions, they also stressed the need to follow the democratic and legal way for all necessary changes in the lives of the Russian people.
All analysed programs support the market economy in the country, but certainly see it with many differences. The major disputing aspect is the role of the state in the economy and its social policy. The spectrum of opinions in this issue is developing more and more towards the one existing in most of the other European countries: from already former communist, but not yet completely social-democratic, through traditional social-democracy, centrism to finally economic liberalism.
This aspect in the Russian politics is strongly tied to another: to accept or not to accept of the unique character of Russia and its special destiny. Those who support the idea of the special way of Russia in the world, or “traditionalists” prefer to see a more active role of the state. Those who deny any specifics in the Russian way to the future want to minimise the state interference in the economy and the lives of the people.
3. The programs clearly represent the interest of major parties and blocs to make some changes in the Russian Constitution. Though, their vision of necessary changes is to some extent different, there are also many positions where common points of view exist. It concerns with the development of a more balanced political system, empowerment of the Legislature, correction of the power of President. It is also about guarantee of existence of a single legal and constitutional space on the territory of the Russian Federation, the development of a mechanism for solution of disputes between the Federal power and regions, and the prevention of separatism.
4. All major parties and blocs support to military, and court reforms, as well as the need to fight against corruption and crime but these parts of the programs primarily have a declaratory character.
5. None of major parties and blocs calls for self-isolation of Russia from the rest of the world. At the same time, the programs call for the foreign policy based on the national interests of the country and the rejection of the mono-polar world and dictate from that “pole” to other countries. The elections programs also present the existing plurality of opinions on the place of Russia in the world and vision of its allies and priorities. The liberals want to see Russia faced to Europe and even as a member of the European Union in the future while “traditionalists” prefer the more balanced “Eurasian” orientation of Russia.
6. Of course, the programs of all major players in the coming elections have a significant influence of populism and reflect the desire to be liked by voters and their proposals are not always real or possible to implement. Some documents are products of long debates when some were just “cooked” and have an impact of that rush in which they were made.
Consequently, they have many contradictories and not well thought of statements like the announcement of SPS that Russia had 56 years of “more then relative freedom under tsarist autocracy.” We may agree about some and only relative freedom developed after 1905, so existing for less than 12 years, but not in Russia of Alexandre III or Nicholas II before the October Manifest of 1905. Such statements reflect the limited knowledge of Russian politicians in their own history, as well as the fact that they not always learn from it. Though, I believe it is already the time to do so.
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