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The leaders of two liberal parties in Russia said Tuesday they want to join forces in the 2007 parliamentary elections
The leaders of two liberal parties in Russia said Tuesday they want to join forces in the 2007 parliamentary elections. The Union of Right Forces (SPS), which supports western-style capitalism and is associated with the free market reforms and privatization of the 1990s under the presidency of Boris Yeltsin, failed to reach the 5% threshold in the 2003 elections needed to take up seats in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma. It has two seats in the 450-seat Duma, all from single-mandate districts, compared with the 32 it took in 1999. Nikita Belykh, the leader of the SPS, told a party Congress he is seeking to take up seats in the Duma in the 2007 elections and that he will complete negotiations on the formation of a new coalition party within the next two months. "My proposal is to convene a party Congress in November in order to make a final decision on the [coalition] structure, name, members, leaders and program we plan to win the elections with," he said. Vladimir Ryzhkov, an independent parliamentarian and head of the Republican Party, said his party was ready to join a united democratic party. "Our party is ready for the formation of a single, united democratic party," Ryzhkov told the Congress, adding that the parties maintained close ties with each other. A new democratic alliance, which is likely to include the Party for the Development of Entrepreneurship, is expected to be launched in November. Belykh said the SPS will form an opposition faction if it succeeds in the 2007 elections, and will make every effort to become Russia's ruling party in 2015. "In 2011 we intend to increase our representation [in the Duma] and form an influential grouping to block draft bills which are not in line with the principles of democracy and a market economy," he said. "In 2015, we intend to be a ruling party." Leonid Gozman, SPS deputy chairman, said the party advocates the large-scale unification of democratic forces in Russia, but rules out coming to power on the back of a "color revolution" similar to the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine. He said the SPS will never join a coalition with left-wing nationalists. "We have no the right to clear the road for those. In comparison with them, the current power is a pure specimen of democracy," he said. Analysts have said unification is the only solution to the current difficulties Russia's liberal parties are in. The democrats, however, have not been able so far to identify a common platform or put up a recognized leader able to compete on equal terms with the party in power, United Russia.
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