Russia Political Parties and Legislative Elections
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
After early 1990, when the Soviet constitution was amended to delete the provision that the CPSU was the "leading and guiding" force in the political system, many political groups began to operate more openly in Russia. The constitution of 1993 guarantees Russians' right to a multiparty system. Political party development has lagged, however, because many Russians associate parties with the repressiveness of the CPSU in the Soviet era. In the mid-1990s, most of Russia's parties were based on personal followings, had few formal members, and lacked broad geographical bases and coherent platforms. Prior to the legislative elections of 1993 and 1995, much shifting occurred as parties formed and abandoned coalitions, sometimes involving partners with which they had little in common politically. Even the KPRF, direct heir to the CPSU, waffled on many central economic and foreign policy issues in the 1996 presidential campaign. One observer noted that for most Russian voters, the two major sides in the 1996 election had no identification with broad national issues; they were simply the anti-Yeltsins and the anti-communists. Experts identified the lack of focused national party organizations as a key factor in the diffusion of political power to subnational jurisdictions in the mid-1990s (see The Federation Treaty and Regional Power, this ch.).
The Elections of 1993
In November 1993, Yeltsin issued decrees prescribing procedures for multiparty parliamentary elections, which would be the first since tsarist times. Besides setting the configuration of the new bicameral parliament, the Yeltsin plan called for half of the 450 State Duma deputies to be elected from national party lists with representation proportional to the overall votes received by each party. The other half would be elected locally, in single-member districts (see The Parliament, this ch.). The party-list procedure, a new feature in Russian elections, was designed to strengthen the identification of candidates with parties and to foster the concept of the multiparty system among the electorate. To achieve proportional representation in the State Duma, a party would need to gain at least 5 percent of the nationwide vote.
The CEC declared thirteen parties eligible for the party list, and 2,047 individual candidates were selected to compete for Federation Council seats (490) and State Duma single-mandate seats (1,567), allotted to individuals regardless of their parties' overall performance vis-à-vis the 5 percent threshold. Although the CEC reported some voting irregularities, the vast majority of the more than 1,000 international observers termed the elections largely free and fair, with some reservations expressed about manipulation of results. In several republics, the referendum results were invalidated by low turnouts caused by boycotts, or because voters failed to approve the constitution.
Many experts divided the myriad parties of the 1993 elections roughly into three main blocs: pro-Yeltsin reformists, centrists advocating a slower pace of reform, and hard-liners opposing reforms. The main reformist party was Russia's Choice, led by former prime minister Yegor Gaydar. The main centrist parties were the Yavlinskiy-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc, commonly referred to as Yabloko (the Russian word for apple), headed by economist Grigoriy Yavlinskiy and former ambassador to the United States Vladimir Lukin, and the Democratic Party of Russia, headed by Nikolay Travkin. The main hard-line parties were the LDPR, the KPRF, headed by Gennadiy Zyuganov, and the Agrarian Party, which represented state- and collective-farm interests and was headed by Mikhail Lapshin.
In 1993 the strongly nationalist, antireform LDPR emerged with the largest vote on the State Duma party lists, followed by Russia's Choice. By faring much better in the single-member districts, however, Russia's Choice emerged with sixty-six seats, the most in the State Duma. The LDPR followed with sixty-four seats. Altogether, reformist and centrist parties emerged with the greatest number of seats in the State Duma, followed by nationalist and antireform parties. Some 127 State Duma seats were won by individuals not formally affiliated with a party, many of whom were former CPSU members.
Of the thirteen parties participating in the December 1993 legislative elections on the party lists, eight exceeded the 5 percent threshold to win seats in the State Duma. In addition, all thirteen parties, as well as some local parties, won seats in single-member districts. Once the new parliament was seated, the parties aggregated into several factions. A number of deputies coalesced into the Union of December 12 faction. Sixty-five centrist deputies formed the New Regional Policy faction, and some LDPR members shifted their affiliation to the KPRF or the Agrarian Party, or supported former vice president Aleksandr Rutskoy's Concord in the Name of Russia policy agenda.
Data as of July 1996
NOTE: The information regarding Russia on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Russia Political Parties and Legislative Elections information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Russia Political Parties and Legislative Elections should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.