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"Presidential Coalitions"

 
Our Home Is Russia Fatherland—All Russia

Unity

 

Most strikingly, two new electoral coalitions competed on the party-list ballot, which succeeded in capturing a significant portion of popular vote: FatherlandAll Russia and Unity. These two election blocs shared many similar qualities with each other, but had little in common with the four parties mentioned above. In contrast to the four parliamentary parties discussed above, these two organizations are better understood as presidential coalitions, as they are concerned not with party development, but with influencing the presidential election. 

In Russia’s election cycles the parliamentary vote precedes the presidential elections by a few months. In 1999, Fatherland—All Russia was created to support presidential aspirations of Luzhkov and Primakov, whereas Unity was created by the Kremlin, on behalf of Putin, to weaken Luzhkov and Primakov and strengthen Putin’s prospects. In other words, the presidential coalitions use parliamentary campaign as a presidential primary.

"PRESIDENTIAL COALITIONS" ("PARTIES OF POWER")

1995 Elections Our Home Is Russia movement under the leadership of Chernomyrdin
1999 Elections Fatherland—All Russia, comprised of Luzhkov's Fatherland and Shaimiev's All-Russia Movement
Unity (pro-Putin's electoral coalition)
2003 Elections United Russia (the result of the merger of Fatherland—All Russia and the president's Unity)

The two election blocs had much in common with their forerunner, the Our Home Is Russia movement, in the sense that they were the “parties of bosses” or “parties of power,” comprised mainly of members of the state bureaucracy and governing elites.

They have also earned the nickname of “virtual parties” that can be set up almost overnight by using state-based informal networks of “bosses”. Thus, Unity was just a collection of people thrown together and placed on the ballot by the Kremlin spin-doctors just a few months before the election. The party’s electoral success was assured by the support of the government-friendly media, which associated the party with Putin day after day in the news, enabling it to capitalize on Putin’s very high public support.

Although they strive to present themselves as “centrist” parties, the presidential coalitions have very poorly defined identities within the electorate, and their programmes contain many contradictions. 

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