The presidential elections are approaching, and the Russian home policy is a fairly recurring recurrent theme in the recentanalysis and forums of RIA Novosti. It is also one of the most discussed topics on the Russian Internet, especially since December 2011. Maria Selina recently wondered if a new wave of emigration would take place and very cleverly deduced that the demonstrations ofDecember 2011 could theoretically put together the whole of those who reject the Russian political system and may choose to pack up and leave the country. My readers know it, Icovered the December demonstrations and I published pictures and texts that led to passionate debates on the topic. The fact to be a foreigner who comments the Russian political scene is not very comfortable but maybe it shows things under a new eyeglass.
I discussed with people on Facebook. Marina (a trilingual Franco-Russian in her thirties and an MBA student)summarized the reasons why she went down in the street to demonstrateagainst the regime. She wrote to me: “The political scene in Russia is blocked because Putin‘s party leaves no place for other parties to develop” Marina asks for the “the emergence of new, young and strong partiesand (she no longer wishes) to liveunder a single dominant party as United Russia”. S
he also denounces the “so-calledmulti–partysystemprevailingin Russia because accordingtoher“the opposition parties are old parties led by Soviet minds for whom people votewithout conviction, only to not vote for United Russia”. This claim provoked in me a series of thoughts. I can’t help as a foreigner, to make a comparison with France.
What do we see in France? There has certainly been an alternation in recent decades between the two main currents represented by the two dominant parties. But do these two old parties of center-right (UMP) and center-left (PS) present real fundamental ideological differences, while facing the restrictive and binding requirements of the supranational Brussels? Is it possible to dream for the “emergence of new young and strong parties” in France, as Marina does for Russia? Is that what we can call a “unblocked political scene” What if in France we were allowed to vote not for one, but for two parties that anyway cannot handle the French economy, that have almost the same program and whose hands are now fully bound by 30 years of mismanagement they are totally responsible for? Do those parties have any breathing space at the hands of the abyssal deficits they have created? In France, the parties that are considered more or less like the anti system parties are the National Front and the Left Party, which are always kept out of the governance because of some subtle political mechanisms. Consequently the representations at the French National Assembly meeting are neither proportional nor fair.
In France people vote (for a party) in the first round and eliminate (a party) in the second round, which means that in the end one does not necessarily vote for a party but rather against a party. This is what Marina wrote about Russia: »The vote in favor of certain parties in Russia is mainly a vote against United Russia». This dream of a worthy political opposition is interesting, its aim being to bring an alternative policy to the one in effect.
A new and credible opposition in Russia should first be identifiable, especially regarding the content of its project for the country. It should demonstrate an ability to exercise power, to impose itself at the elections and not just to oppose itself to the power via statements and street demonstrations. According to Viktor Loupan, the difficulty is to create a constructive opposition to Vladimir Putin, the latter being “both left and right wing oriented, patriot and liberal, both nationalist and globalist. In order to oppose would it be only to a centrist position, one needs a solid political culture and an unwavering ideological platform.
In order to become a real political force, it takes time and patience. (…) Look, Mitterrand began to oppose de Gaulle in 1958 and only came to power in 1981”.
I am not the only one to think that male and female politicians should above all defend the national interests and the citizens of their country. I do not see any party able to fulfil those aims in my own country, France, but so far I do not know either what I would think (and what my fellow citizens would think) if palpable foreign interference were observed in the political and election process of the country as if the case in Russia. As
the journalist from the “Courrier de russie” Clemence Laroque recalled, the new face of theAmerican diplomacy in Russia is called Mike MacFaul. The new Ambassador has always displayed his positions in favor of a restoration of Russian-American relations after the Bush era, but he is also “considered a specialist of the Color revolutions”.
Should we see here a connection with the last December demonstrations and the one of next February? Or with the accusations of financing active opponents (Navalny or Nemtsov) by the U.S. NGOs? Or, would there rather be a link with this weird January 17invitation of the U.S. embassy in Moscow to the Russian opposition representatives, only three days after the appointment of this ambassador to Russia?
Can one imagine, for example, that the French National Front could be received by the Russian ambassador and complain about the fact the party has no deputies? Or, could Jean-Luc Melenchon (Left Party) be received by the Chinese ambassador after having organized demonstrations in Paris? What would the French citizens and voters think? I recently published a column about this “National Democrat” project that seeks to bring together the liberal and the moderate nationalist movements, and that could haveemerged
from the demonstrations of last December. According to the Russian analyst Dmitry Olchansky the demonstrations have proved the existence in the Russian society of a minority (called “European population”) opposed to a majority(called “archaic population”).
From his point of view, this new opposition should result in the emergence of a dominant nationalist ideology, with all the risks that it entails. United Russia wouldtherefore be a safety valve whose main task would be to keep power and gradually unlock certain psychological blockages of the Russian society,together with developing a subtle liberalization of the system.
Thus, Dmitry Olchansky concludes: “the longer Putin will stay in power, the more likely the Russian society will have a chance to evolve in peace and harmony.Nationalists will take power one day, this is inevitable. But thelater that day will come, the more civilized they will have become”.
For those who dream of seeing United Russiadisappear, the only credible solution would probably be the appearance of a non destabilizing opposition forthe country, an opposition that would be competent and mostly “Made in Russia”, but by no mean an opposition resurging from the past and being financed from abroad.
But can such an opposition emerge only a few weeks away from the presidential elections?Russian politics are decidedly more exciting than ever.