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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Parties Doomed to Split, Analysts Say

Many of the parties running in next month's elections are doomed to fragment almost as soon as the new parliament convenes, analysts and party members said Tuesday.


The Central Election Commission on Tuesday still had not produced the full list naming all candidates who will run for seats in the new Federal Assembly, but analysts said it was already clear that many parties have fielded candidates with widely divergent political convictions.


"They're a hodgepodge", Mikhail Shneider, a member of the executive committee of Russia's Choice, said of the 13 parties. "These movements are not parties yet. Some of them were set up in a hurry".


Of over 1, 700 candidates listed on the party ballots for the State Duma, 92 have served in the parliament disbanded by President Boris Yeltsin in September, according to a recent Izvestia article, and their past voting records offer some surprises.


The party with the most diverse ex-parliamentarians is the Party of Russian Unity and Accord, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai. Two of the six former parliamentarians on its list rated among the most antireformist in the old parliament, while four voted almost consistently for reforms.


Shneider predicted that this kind of marriage of convenience would not survive the first contentious decisions of the Duma, where politicians will vote according to conviction rather than on election promises.


That also applies to Shneider's own party, Russia's Choice, which includes not only fervent liberals such as Yegor Gaidar and the radical defrocked Russian Orthodox priest Gleb Yakunin, but also centrists. Alexander Pochinok, for example, headed the former parliament budget committee and presided over adoptions of huge budget deficits.


"Russia's Choice unites a wide spectrum of opinions", Shneider said. "We will do all we can to maintain our unity".


Georgy Satarov, a political analyst for the television program Itogi, agreed that many of the parties, including Russia's Choice, are likely to fragment. But he gave Shakhrai's bloc better odds because its members agree on the critical issue of what kind of federal structure Russia should have, opting for decentralization.


Satarov said that centrist coalitions such as Civic Union had proved the least stable of the alliances in the previous parliament and stood little chance of improving their record in the next legislature.


The only party whose ex-deputies could boast a fully consistent voting record was the Russian Communist Party. Three of its candidates voted against reforms on all occasions and all others usually voted conservative, according to the Izvestia list.


Figures provided by the election commission Tuesday suggested that Russians will be choosing mainly between government officials and directors of private businesses at the Dec. 12 polls.


A breakdown of candidates shows that government officials make up 40 percent of candidates for the upper chamber, the Federation Council, and 20 percent of directly elected candidates for the State Duma. The final list of names will be released only later this week, officials said.


Directors of commercial banks and private firms made a strong showing as well, taking up 15. 5 percent of the list of candidates for the Federation Council and 22 percent for the Duma. They had played only a minor role in the previous parliament, which was dominated by the heads of large state factories.


The average candidate is between 40 and 50 years old according to a report in Tuesday evening's Izvestia, with only 3. 4 percent over the age of 60 - a sharp change from the previous parliament. An equally small 4. 4 percent of the candidates are under 30.