Civic Platform – One More Chance for Mikhail Prokhorov

One of the main features of the Civic Platform party is its Federal Civic Committee, which unites people involved in the party’s projects without them being members of it. The time of traditional political parties was drawing to a close.

At its recent convention, the Civic Platform party decided on its new structure, elected a Federal Civic Committee and adopted a new version of its program and charter. Mikhail Prokhorov became the party’s chairman. Nikolai Zlobin , director of Russia and Asian programs at the World Security Institute in Washington, D.C., believes that this political project will last longer for Prokhorov than his Right Cause party, because the new party’s program, which was set out at its convention, is designed to be longer term and strategically more appropriate. He said: “Participants in the convention discussed many political stages that the party will go through over a number of years. As for the Right Cause, it was set up shortly before the presidential elections and its future had not been mapped out. Time will tell whether the Civic Platform will be more effective but, let me repeat that it is definitely a long-term project for Prokhorov personally. I met with him and he confirmed that he will put business aside to concentrate fully on politics.”

One of the main features of the Civic Platform party is its Federal Civic Committee, which unites people involved in the party’s projects without them being members of it. Zlobin said that the time of traditional political parties was drawing to a close. “We have to look for new forms of political organization and new ways of fighting for power. I’m very interested in any creative combinations of the forms of political organization that are now being studied by political strategists in many countries. Traditional parties, not to mention Lenin-style parties that were established in the 20th century, are no longer effective in the struggle for political power. Their time is running out, they are already becoming history. We need something new. I’m very impressed that Prokhorov has given up on a traditional party like his Right Cause party and is looking for a new technological platform to unite his supporters,” Zlobin said. The new party’s Federal Civic Committee, like Vladimir Putin’s Popular Front, is planning to take an active role in the political struggle and unite its supporters on a broader political plane than any political party can do. “My sympathies are with Prokhorov and others who are searching for modern forms of political organization,” Zlobin concluded.

“A search for charismatic leaders may play a much bigger role in the struggle for political power than attempts to promote members of one’s own party or seek their election, which were once so effective. I’m referring to leaders who can lead the nation and win elections. It is important to gain their support and draw them into one’s own political movement. I think this trend will prevail in the future, and other political parties, including United Russia, will start adopting this approach,” he said.

Whether Prokhorov will be able to implement his new project and make it as effective as possible is another matter. Having supported the idea of drawing influential people into the party’s activities on a non-partisan basis, Zlobin added: “Here I have many doubts. I am very skeptical on this score.”

One of the main topics of the convention was a proposal to change the principles of Russia’s territorial arrangement, notably, to reject its division into national republics. This proposal will require amendments to the Russian Constitution. “Nobody doubts the need to make a major change in the Constitution or at least to rewrite a number of its provisions. What the Russian Federation needs is not a post-Soviet Constitution but a quite different fundamental law that would have nothing to do with the need to overcome the Soviet legacy,” Zlobin observed.

As for the proposal to reject the division into national republics, he believes that Russia’s internal ethnic borders do not coincide with its economic interests, priorities and zones. “This is also obvious. Nobody questions this fact. It is clear that these borders were set in Soviet times in line with other priorities. A proposal to change these borders and Russia’s domestic arrangement is only natural. The first person to raise this issue before the collapse of the Soviet Union was General Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee Yury Andropov. It was also discussed under Mikhail Gorbachev’s presidency and in the post-Soviet period. Vladimir Zhirinovsky has spoken about this as well. I agree that ethnic borders in Russia should be gradually removed. The country should not be built along ethnic or religious lines. That said, this is a very difficult and politically risky proposal and it must be handled very delicately and slowly, after weighing all the pros and cons. In this context, Prokhorov could commit political suicide – he is discussing strategically important national projects but hasn’t yet come up with a mechanism for implementing them,” Zlobin summed up.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.