Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New political parties = democratization in Russia?

There are many bureaucratic steps between making it easier to form a legal political party and actually sponsoring candidates, but the new law appears to be a step forward.

And how will Russian politics change if there are dozens of parties competing with each other? (Hint: look back at the elections of the 1990s.)

Russia to Ease Law on Forming Political Parties
Responding to the outcry over disputed parliamentary elections in December and the huge street protests in Moscow that followed, Russian lawmakers on Friday unanimously approved legislation to make it easier to form and maintain new political parties.

But some critics said the legislation goes too far, making the registration of parties so easy that it will splinter the opposition like a shattered wine glass — and will only serve to tighten the Kremlin’s grip on power…

Supporters of the legislation said it represented a major liberalization at a time when President-elect Vladimir V. Putin and the governing United Russia Party have been criticized as holding a tight grip on the political system and tilting it to their advantage…

The new law would reduce to 500 from 40,000 the number of members needed by a party to register with the federal authorities and be recognized to participate in local and national elections…

Under Russian election law, a party must win at least 5 percent of the national vote in parliamentary elections to qualify for at least one seat in the Duma.

Only parties represented in the Duma are entitled to nominate a candidate for president without meeting additional requirements. ..

Even some of the government’s toughest critics said they had to recognize the legislation as a positive development…

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