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Russia will have a new political party by the end of October
Russia will have a new political party by the end of October that will fight for second place in next year's elections to the lower chamber of parliament, one of the party's potential leaders said Tuesday. The Party of Life, Rodina (Motherland) and the Party of Pensioners announced in late August they would unite to form a left-leaning alliance capable of playing an influential role in the country's political life. And although Sergei Mironov, leader of the Party of Life and speaker of the Federation Council, said there was little chance of overturning the dominance of pro-presidential United Russia in the State Duma, he was optimistic about the new party's appeal with voters. "United Russia will take first place because miracles don't happen and we are realists, but we will fight for second place," he said. He said the final merger of the three parties, which are yet to decide on a name for the new organization, was scheduled for October 28. Mironov said, "We plan three conventions for the three merging parties on the morning of October 28 and by night their delegates will be members of a new party." Neither the Party of Life nor the Pensioners won enough votes in the 2003 election to take up seats in the Duma, the lower house of parliament. The Communist Party, Russia's traditional left-wing leaders, won 12.6% of the vote, though this was almost half the share it garnered four years earlier. Rodina, running as an electoral bloc with a campaign focusing on the disparity between many ordinary people and tycoons, stormed into the Duma at the first attempt with just over 9% of the vote in 2003. But it has since been beset by problems. Leaders have come and gone, and it courted controversy with a television advertisement in the campaign for the Moscow legislature this year that was called overtly racist by many and was eventually banned. Media speculated over the summer a new, controllable left-wing party could be established at the behest of the Kremlin authorities, but all three leaders dismissed the suggestion that the new party was a Kremlin project at a joint news conference in August. Mironov said earlier this month that the new party would take up opposition to United Russia, the current "party of power," which holds a massive majority in the Duma. "We oppose the very essence of United Russia as the monopoly political force of the party of power," said Mironov, who is widely seen as a loyalist of President Vladimir Putin. After securing party leader Boris Gryzlov as Duma speaker in the wake of its 2003 landslide, United Russia, itself born of a merger, then captured all the chairmanships of the chamber's committees in a move bitterly protested by the Communists and other factions. "We are in favor of a genuine multi-party system in Russia and, therefore, are in opposition to United Russia," Mironov said.
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