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Three-party system might be established in Russia but the next parliament in 2007 will include no right-wingers
A three-party system might be established in Russia but the next parliament in 2007 will include no right-wingers, a former leader of a prominent liberal movement said Monday. Irina Khakamada, 51, was one of the new democrats that led Russian reforms after the collapse of the Soviet Union and was a co-leader of the Union of Right Forces (SPS) at the 2003 parliamentary election, where it enjoyed little success. She is now president of the Our Choice public foundation and deputy leader of the Russian Democratic Union. "Real democrats have no prospects in the future parliament," said Khakamada, one of the few women in Russian politics. "And this is not only happening because they cannot reach an agreement to unite their small forces and act as one." The Union of the Right Forces was one of the two main right-wing parties that failed to win the 5% of the 2003 vote needed to take up seats in parliament after winning all the three previous elections. The failure was widely attributed to the right-wingers' failure to unite their forces. The turbulence of the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin and parliament dominated by right-wingers was replaced with relative stability under President Vladimir Putin and the pro-Kremlin United Russia party that came to power in 2003. Western critics, however, have attacked Putin's rule for authoritarianism and lack of respect for democratic values. But Khakamada, said, "[The] people's protest has not reached the point when they need a genuine renewal." She said that only three parties would eventually be left in Russia's political structure but it would all depend on the people. "But this will only depend on the people and occur as soon as people realize that they want to build their own democracy," Khakamada said. "As long as people are quiet, our political structure will have nothing to do with the development of party system," she said. Next parliamentary elections Russia's democrats are likely to miss the 2007-08 political season, when parliamentary and presidential elections will be held, because they have no credible political party, Khakamada said. "Thus far not a single viable opposition party has been registered," she said. As an example, she cited the Republican Party, which was recently formed by an independent member of parliament, Vladimir Ryzhkov. The party is having difficulties with registration for the 2007 parliamentary elections after the lower house, the State Duma, introduced new registration rules expanding the set of reasons for election authorities to deny registration to candidates. The People's Democratic Union led by ex-prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov "is refusing to form a political party," Khakamada said. Her Our Choice party joined Kasyanov's movement in 2004-05. Khakamada said only two right-wing parties had been registered for the upcoming elections: the liberal Yabloko and the SPS. But she added that they were unable to form a coalition. "I have an impression that these two political parties are highly likely to run for parliament separately," Khakamada said and added that this was nothing but repeating the old mistakes. "Basically, democrats are missing the 2007-08 political season," she said. Presidential ambitions After running for the presidency in 2004, Khadamada said she had no plans to do so again in 2008. "I fulfilled my functions in 2004: I demonstrated how to go against the flow," she said. In the previous presidential poll, Khakamada took up the challenge despite the recent disastrous failure of the right-wingers to make it to the Duma for the first time in ten years, and despite low expectations. She finished fourth out of six contesters with 3.84% of votes. Putin was reelected with about 70%. Khakamada said she was ready to support a single democratic candidate in the next elections. "If a common democratic candidate emerges by 2008 and if this candidate has a better image, I am ready to back that person," she said. The politician said it was difficult for a woman to contend against male candidates. "It is of course difficult for a woman, particularly if she is in opposition, to remain competitive against a man at presidential elections," she said commenting on her chances. "I am ready to join the race only if everyone else refuses again," she said in an apparent reference to the 2004 when she was the only right-wing presidential candidate.
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