WHO WILL BE THIRD

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United Russia chooses candidates for the Duma election

At the parliamentary election in December, the United Russia party intends to make maximal use of the “brand-name” and administrative resources of regional leaders who are members of the party. At least 35 of them will head its candidate lists in the regions.


At the parliamentary election in December, the United Russia party intends to make maximal use of the “brand-name” and administrative resources of regional leaders who are members of the party. At least 35 of them will head its candidate lists in the regions. Similar resources, on a lesser scale, will be used by Just Russia and the Communist Party: certain Federation Council members and mayors of regional capitals.

This is becoming an established practice in Russian politics: a few high-profile candidates, known as “steam engines,” at the top of candidate lists – pulling a string of “non-transparent carriages” in the form of unknown candidates, their identity decided by the party leadership. The mechanics of intrigues over safe spots on candidate lists are generally understood, and are unlikely to change from what was done in the last Duma election; but some new details are emerging with regard to the political expediency of well-known regional party leaders and federal ministers battling for the top places on Duma candidate lists. In this new political season, the “steam engines” possessing executive power in the regions and Moscow will be able to do more than compete with each other and rival parties for the outcome statistics (as a rule, without having any intention of quitting their current posts and taking up the Duma seats they win). They can also expect that if (for some reason known only to the Kremlin) they should cease to be ministers or regional leaders within the next four years, they would be able to reclaim those Duma seats and retain a certain status within the political class.

The battle for places on candidate lists is at its height right now. It won’t end until October, when the registered candidate lists are finalized. The preliminary outlines of United Russia’s lists are already apparent. It’s revealing to note that the top trio on United Russia’s federal list includes Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov and Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu, but does not include President Mintimer Shaimiyev of Tatarstan or Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who will head the party’s lists in their respective regions. A source within United Russia’s general council, speaking anonymously, told us that this situation is due to configurations of power within the party leadership – which aspires to form a government based on the Duma election results and continue President Vladimir Putin’s policy course, along with “achievements in federative policy.”

Given that Luzhkov’s term as mayor of Moscow expires this December, and Luzhkov hasn’t yet requested President Putin for a confirmation of confidence, experts believe that Luzkhov might be looking to take up a prominent position in the next-convocation Duma.

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