POLITICAL CAPITAL

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POLITICAL PARTIES ECONOMIZE ON EVERYTHING BUT THEIR OWN LEADERS AND RULING BODIES

Political parties are spending more on their upper echelons than ever before.


The Central Electoral Commission published political parties’ financial reports for the first three months of 2009. If these figures were to be trusted, political parties managed to keep their budgets on the level of the analogous period of 2008 and even boost them to a certain extent – thanks to government support and minimization of costs. It is fair to add, however, that absolutely all political parties without exception increased ruling bodies maintenance costs.

With 309 million rubles on its bank accounts, United Russia remained the wealthiest political party in the country at the close of the first quarter of the year. A year ago, however, the ruling party had been even wealthier (342.6 million rubles).

Russian Patriots, too, reported a smaller budget. This political party finished the first three months of the year with but 1,570 rubles on bank accounts against 53,600 rubles a year ago. Yabloko in its turn reported completion of the first quarter with 15.5 million rubles (17 million at the close of the first three months of 2008). Not represented in the Duma, these two political parties lack the government support reserved for parliamentary parties.

As if aware of the forthcoming crisis, parliamentarians took measures last summer that spared them financial problems these days. The parliament passed the law that upped state subsidies from 5 to 20 rubles per vote. Quadrupled them, in other words. As a result, United Russia received nearly 900 million rubles from the federal budget, CPRF 160 million, LDPR 113 million, and Fair Russia 107 million.

The Communist Party finished the first three months of the year with 160 million rubles (37.2 million, a year ago), Fair Russia with 31.7 million (5.1), and Liberal Democrats with 146.6 million (42.2 million).

Budget subsidies increased due to the provident amendment of the acting legislation but donations from sponsors certainly went down. United Russia reported 115.7 million rubles transacted from sponsors in the first quarter of 2009 (351.2 million last year), the CPRF 9.3 million (against 31.8). Fair Russia only raised 50,000 rubles. Insignificant as it is, the sum nevertheless beats what Fair Russia had raised a year ago (7,223 rubles). The LDPR in its turn had received 160 million rubles from its sponsors in the first quarter of 2008 and generously told them “Thank you, but we’ll manage” this time. In other words, Liberal Democrats did not accept a single ruble from its sponsors in the first three months of the year.

Non-parliamentary parties, deprived as they are of government support, had to rely on energetic fund-raising campaigns to survive. Yabloko raised 14.4 million rubles in the first quarter of 2009 (10.2 million a year ago). Russian Patriots raised 11.8 million rubles this year against the pitiful 4,660 rubles in the first quarter of 2008. As a matter of fact, fund-raising is essentially the only source of income for these political parties.

The CPRF cut its costs in the first three months of the year from 51.2 million rubles in 2008 to 30.6 in 2009. The LDPR spent 160 million rubles in the first quarter of 2008 and only 13 million in 2009. Fair Russia, on the contrary, upped expenses from 31.7 million rubles a year ago to 76.5 million now.

Expenditures of United Russia in the first three months of 2008 amounted to 501 million rubles and nearly doubled this sum (961 million rubles) this year.

Judging by their reports, all political parties without exception spend much more on their ruling structures than they were spending a year ago. United Russia spent 80 million rubles on its upper echelons in the first three months of 2009 (66.6 million last year), CPRF 7.1 million (4.6), Fair Russia 33 million (20), Yabloko 3 million (2.3), and Russian Patriots 3 million (931,000). Once again, the LDPR stands out. Its leaders and ruling structures cost the party budget more than they did a year ago but insignificantly so – 183,000 rubles in 2009 and 179,000 in 2008.

Crisis or not, functionaries of political parties like their comforts.

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