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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Eager Candidates Already Dividing Up Duma

Without waiting for the outcome of the Dec. 19 elections, leaders of the leading political blocs running for the next State Duma have already started dividing up the seats in it.

Yevgeny Primakov, leader of the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, said his movement may form a working coalition with the Communists - a combination that could spell trouble for Kremlin-backed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

A combination of Fatherland-All Russia and the Communists, expected to be two of the biggest blocs, might give the Kremlin's opponents enough votes to bring down Putin's government, if they so choose.

The Kremlin's allies, however, were also busy spelling out their vision of the next Duma. In a newspaper interview published Wednesday, Sergei Shoigu, leader of the pro-Kremlin Unity bloc, suggested "the constructive forces" of the newly elected Duma would unite around his group.

"We think Unity should become the center of consolidation of all constructive forces of the parliament," he said in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Shoigu's prediction got a boost when Viktor Chernomyrdin, leader of the Our Home Is Russia party, said Our Home would back Putin.

In addition to the expression of support from Our Home Is Russia, seven provincial governors announced their support for Putin, bringing the total to 27. Presumably that would translate into more support for Unity in Duma races and in the Duma, where the governors have considerable clout.

The Communists and Fatherland-All Russia have tried to forge an alliance before but failed. If they can find a common language, however, they could vote no-confidence in Putin in an attempt to get rid of the favorite candidate of Yeltsin's entourage for the presidential election in 2000, or amend the Constitution to limit presidential power.

If presidential elections were held now, every poll shows that Putin would be the winner. Moreover, 60 percent to 75 percent of Russia's population approves of the job Putin is doing as prime minister.

Analysts say that even though there are no plausible grounds for the no-confidence vote now, Putin's opponents in the next Duma might still consider using their right to a no-confidence vote against him if the circumstances are right.

Under the Constitution, the State Duma may vote no-confidence in the government by a simple majority. After a second such vote, which must take place within the next three months after the first vote, the president must either fire the Cabinet or dissolve the Duma.

But since the Constitution also bars dissolving the Duma in the first year after the election, the president would have his hands tied and would presumably have to dump his government.

Primakov said Tuesday that lot of people in the Communist Party think the way "we do" and they might become "partners of Fatherland-All Russia in passing certain decisions and laws in the State Duma," Interfax reported.

"We were negotiating with Fatherland-All Russia, and are doing it now," Zyuganov said Wednesday on Ekho Moskvy radio. He criticized every major party running for the Duma except for Fatherland-All Russia.

Vladimir Rimsky, political analyst of the INDEM research center, said a coalition between Fatherland-All Russia and the Communists was possible, but added that the new Duma is unlikely to get to "the Putin issue" before mid-February as at first it will have to elect a speaker and form committees.

Vladimir Pribylovsky of the Panorama research center said even when all these other issues are settled, the Duma will have to think of a good reason to vote no-confidence in Putin's government.

"A major economic failure or defeat in the Chechen operation could become a good reason for a no-confidence vote," Pribylovsky said.