Moscow, Sep 18 (EFE).- The Vladimir Putin-aligned United Russia party marked 20 years of political dominance as the country heads to the polls for legislative elections Saturday.
Russia’s democratic stagnation with Putin at the helm is built on the post-Soviet framework left behind after the collapse of the USSR.
The last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, once described United Russia as a “bad copy” of the Communist Party of Soviet Russia (CPSU)
The attrition of United Russia is evident, however. According to official sources, the party, which has held a majority in the Duma since 2016, has the support of just a third of voters.
After substituting Boris Yeltsin, Putin ran in his first presidential elections in 2000 with the support of United Russia’s predecessor Unity. In a bid to shore up power, Unity merged with the Fatherland-All Russia party as Putin’s popularity ratings soared.
Since then, the party which has a bear as its emblem, has won every parliamentary election with a huge gap over the communists and nationalists. It has effectively removed Russia’s liberal forces from the political arena.
Support for United Russia was aided by the inclusion of oligarchs and famous personalities from the world of sport and culture.
Every law proposed by Putin has been unanimously adopted by the Duma.
Party discipline is ironclad and the chain of command does not permit freedom of opinion. The Kremlin proposes projects, the pro-government deputies vote in favor of the laws and the government applies them.
“It is not a Western-style party. It is a bureaucratic machine that must guarantee the appearance of massive support for the Kremlin’s policies. It is not a party, but a channel for the bureaucracy and officials to defend and promote their interests,” Lev Gudkov, from the Levada analytical center, told Efe.