#8 - 7037
January 28, 2003
RATING OF PARTY TREASURERS
Readiness of the leading political parties for the 2003 election is out of synch with results of opinion polls
Author: Olga Tropkina, Maxim Glikin
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THE READINESS OF PARTIES FOR THE ELECTION IS DETERMINED BY WHETHER THEY CAN MANAGE TO MOBILIZE THEIR ORGANIZATIONAL AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES AT THE OUTSET OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN. OPINION POLLS MAKE IT CLEAR THAT ONLY FIVE PARTIES WILL MAKE IT INTO THE NEXT DUMA.
An update on parties and preparations for the parliamentary campaign
Discord in the upper echelons of the United Russia party has convinced party leaders to replace the treasurer as well. According to our sources, the party has already chosen Alexander Bespalov's successor. He is Senator Sergei Popov, former chairman of the party Central Executive Committee. Renovation of the executive committee promises to be a lengthy and painful process. It may be added, however, that similar processes are underway in other political parties. Meanwhile, the readiness of parties for the election is determined by whether they can manage to mobilize their organizational and financial resources at the outset of the election campaign.
Opinion polls make it clear that only five parties will make it into the next Duma. According to a poll done by the National Public Opinion Research Center in December, United Russia would have got 27% of the vote if the election had been held then; the CPRF 27%, LDPR 9%, and Yabloko 5%. Similar results are indicated in a January poll done by the Public Opinion Foundation: 24% for the CPRF, 24% for United Russia, 6% for LDPR, 6% for Yabloko, and 3% for the Union of Right Forces.
Party bosses know, however, that ratings are not determined between elections; it is the last two months before the election that count. Lack of strong financial management, i.e. an effective party treasurer, may have a damaging impact on even the most popular party. Conflicts over party finances can negate the effectiveness of any PR campaign, no matter how expensive. So it is no coincidence that United Russia's puppet-masters are in a hurry to bring Popov (who is considered an effective crisis manager) into the executive committee of the party.
The left opposition has even more serious problems. Discord in the People's Patriotic Union has resulted in a situation when communists do not trust their treasurer Gennadi Semigin, chief of the executive committee. This lack of trust was expressed at the recent plenum of the CPRF Central Committee. Zyuganov's followers want finances handled by Viktor Vidmanov of Rosagropromastroi. There is a problem here. Only a congress of the People's Patriotic Union can unseat Semigin, and nobody knows when that may take place.
Yabloko's financial system is complicated too. Under the charter, all financial matters are decided collegially - by the financial commission under Grigori Yavlinsky's deputy Sergei Ivanenko. Meanwhile, organization of the elections is a prerogative of the central staff under Timofei Nizhegorodtsev. There is, however, a third structure - a working group for the elections under recently-appointed Daniil Mescheryakov.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky's LDPR is not transparent either. The central staff is considered the foremost executive body. It is managed by one Oleg Malyshkin. All that's known about Malyshkin is that he once headed a district administration in the Rostov region and was involved in several financial scandals. Everybody knows, however, that all finances are really managed by Zhirinovsky himself.
Organizationally, the situation is the best in the Union of Right Forces. Its executive committee has been chaired for more than a year by PR specialist Eldar Yanbukhtin, formerly general director of the Kontakt PR agency. Yanbukhtin's candidature was supported by all leaders of the party and by the Political Council. Yanbukhtin was the ideal choice - the chairman of the executive committee does not represent any faction within the party, and knows oligarchs but is not associated with any. Yanbukhtin himself always emphasizes that he is just a hired manager, and a party member only because the Political Council demanded it.
It follows that the general picture is somewhat reversed (the matter concerns readiness of Russian political parties for the election). The Union of Right Forces is at the top of the list. It is followed by the LDPR, Yabloko, United Russia, and the communists. In other words, the correlation of political forces is not as obvious as results of opinion polls indicate.