Putin’s party calls for ‘compulsory primaries’

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party has announced plans to make it compulsory for all Russian parties to hold primary elections.

“We will be well able to introduce this procedure as a bill in September and begin discussing it,” Oleg Morozov, the vice-speaker of the Russian parliament’s lower house, told reporters on Wednesday.

Russia will hold parliamentary elections in December and then a presidential vote in March next year.

Putin suggested compulsory primaries at a meeting of All-Russia People’s Front, an amorphous group that analysts say is designed to broaden United Russia’s support.

A group of experts has begun working out the details of the bill, Morozov said.

The bill is unlikely to face opposition in parliament, which is dominated by United Russia members.

Pavel Salin, an analyst at the Moscow-based Center for Political Assessments, said he welcomed the idea but said it would do nothing to eradicate the bribery and corruption involved in getting on party lists.

“Let’s be frank: seats on the lists of all parties are just bought,” Salin said. “And while public primaries will not root out corruption, they will make the procedure of forming the party lists more transparent.”

“Corruption will not go, it will be institutionalized.”

“Primaries will only be of interest to campaigning journalists and bloggers,” Salin said, adding that most of the country’s population is in the dark about who they go to the polls to vote for.

United Russia has held primaries in a handful of Russia’s provinces in recent weeks.

Leave a comment