Picture: Old hand in the election campaign: For two decades, Gennady Zyuganov leads the Communist Party of Russia.
Time for emotions: Elections campaign starts in Russia
Moscow. Duma elections will start on the 4th December in Russia. The election campaign officially starts today. Time for political attacks and heated debates. The dominance of Kremlin's party „United Russia“ is not in danger.
President Dmitiri Medvedev set the date for the next Duma elections on Monday after the meeting with seven party leaders. The 4th December is not a surprise for most political observers, who assumed that the first Sunday in December would be election day.
New rules for the new Duma
However, the elections promise suspense. First of all there are a number of changes: The term of office for ministers has increased to 5 years (at the same time as the Presidents has increased to 6 years), the number of signatures for non-parliamentary parties who wish to take part in the election has been reduced from 200,000 to 150,000 and the seven percent hurdle eased (parties, that achieve more than five percent may not form a fraction but can count on one or two seats in the Duma).
Secondly, the election result could pe an important indicator on the outcome of the presidential elections in March 2011. President Vladimir Putin is regarded as the driving force for the Kremlin Party „United Russia“. Should their result be favourable, then Putin, as their leading candidate could openly show his ambitions to a new Presidency, a bad result however would strengthen Medvedev as president (provided that no internal decision has been reached until December).
Does a good result for United Russia automatically mean the return of Putin?
The question is, what the Kremlin understands under a „good result“ or a bust. A victory for „United Russia“ is not questionable. The party expects to defend the absolute majority in the Duma.
According to a poll taken by Levada Center, 54 percent of all voters would cast their vote for „United Russia“. This is where the interpretation of the result starts, the number is higher than in the 2007 elections but pretty much the low point in the poll conducted by the Levada Center since 2009.
Numbers at the poll for „United Russia“ crumble Compared to the peak value of 2009 (62 percent) the current number shows a decrease of eight percent. The current result as and equivalent in seats in the Duma would not be enough to represent a constitutional majority.
With the Kremlin party only being interested in the hight of the election victory, the other parties are fighting for their political survival. The Communists (18 percent in the Levada poll) and the nationalistic LDPR (with 13 percent) have a good chance to enter the next Duma.
“Just Russia“ and „Right Cause“ have to worry about entry into the Duma
„Just Russia“. once the Kremlin´s second project as a socially liberal counterpart to the conservative „United Russia“, however must fear for its entry. Currently the barrometer around the „fallen“ federation council head Sergei Mironov predicts only six percent.
Even „Right Cause“ under Mikhail Prokhorov and innitiated by the Medvedev camp does not show a fast start. The party, rejected by Russians as oligarchs party can still only achieve a meager three percent.
Yes to emotions, no to nationalistic slogans
Of course, the election campaign has only just been announced and is always a struggle and a sturrs up emotions. This is normal, otherwise it would not be a democracy, said President Medvedev on a meeting with party leaders on Monday.
Pithy slogans by LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky can be expected and even some minor criticism of the government by Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist party.
Throughout all the discussions there are still taboo topics, that will not be discussed, including the issue of conflict between the various nationalities in Russia. Trying to gain points with raising nationalistic issues will not be acceptable, said Medvedev. Such attempts and appeals will be stopped and any person committing such acts will be punished, he added.