Systemic parties losing support, elites shift to new parties – Civic Initiatives Committee report

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(Interfax – September 16, 2013) Parliamentary parties are losing the support of regional and local elites some of whom are shifting towards new political forces, the Civil Initiatives Committee think tank suggested.

“There is an outflow of regional and local elites and voters from practically every “systemic” party [which has seats at the State Duma]. Candidates are moving from one “systemic” party to another and frequently choosing new parties [over the old ones]. Even the formal preservation of the relative percentage of supporters of the old parties in some cases means a decrease in absolute support,” says a Civil Initiatives Committee report obtained by Interfax on Monday. The report was dedicated to the September 8 election.

In the opinion of experts, new political actors will be increasingly self-confident. “There is a gradual change of the party system’s format. Simpler registration rules and an increase in the number of registered parties lead to a qualitative change, which, in our opinion, will intensify in spite of even the active use of spoiler techniques,” the report said.

“This process has a chance to accelerate thanks to the successful performance of certain new parties [and a number of old party projects formerly regarded as outsiders] in the recent regional and local elections, which could have been even larger if not for pre-election “sweeps” in some regions. The success of new parties’ candidates in the mayoral elections in Moscow and Yekaterinburg may have an especially large significance,” the report noted.

A surge in confrontations in regions, in which the authorities seek to stay in control “at any cost”, is fraught with substantial risks, it said.

“The feeling of a crisis of the former party and electoral system in many regions causes open discontent with regional and local administrations, which results in the significant growth, as compared with previous years, of the number of confrontations, the barring from ballots of parties and candidates enjoying real support, and scandals during ballot-casting and the counts of votes,” the report said.

“The wish to preserve control at any cost clearly disagrees with the political reform’s goal of higher legitimacy of elected authorities. This trend bears significant risks; we are confident that the massive and systemic abuse of administrative resources has been a reason for the decreasing confidence of citizens in the national electoral system and a prerequisite for mass protest actions of late 2011 – early 2012,” the Civil Initiatives Committee report said.