Taking part in the meeting were representatives of Civic Platform, Communists of Russia, Right Cause, Patriots of Russia, the Republican Party of Russia – Party of People’s Freedom, Motherland, Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice, and Russian United Democratic Party Yabloko.
President Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
We are meeting in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Russian Federation’s Constitution. As you know, I am holding a series of meetings with the leaders of the parliamentary parties. This is also related to the preparations underway for the Annual Address to the Federal Assembly.
It wasn’t by chance that I started out by mentioning the 20th anniversary of the Constitution. The Constitution is the foundation of our state and legal system. This is a developing system, a living organism. In this respect, I must mention the decision that we took to significantly liberalise political parties’ activity. Different people will have different views on these changes. You are probably familiar with the comments and analysis which suggest that we were perhaps too hasty here.
A huge number of small but unviable parties has been created, but people say that this was nonetheless the right decision. It means that substantial parts of society that wanted to get involved in the country’s political life but did not have the opportunity have now obtained this chance.
I think the experience of the latest regional elections in September this year showed that these decisions have played a positive part in developing our political system. Let me quote some figures. You all know them well, but I will cite them once again nonetheless. We had a total of 50 non-parliamentary parties taking part in the last elections, and that is a sizeable number. Eighteen non-parliamentary parties had candidates elected from party lists to the regional parliaments, and if we count deputies representing single-seat districts, this gives a total of 27 non-parliamentary parties represented in regional parliaments. Six of them made it through on the parliamentary lists in 7 of the 16 regions, and 8 parties cleared the five-percent barrier and formed their own factions in the regional parliaments.
This shows that this system does enable a large number of our citizens to take direct part in the country’s political life. Furthermore, it creates not a bank or credit history, but a political history for these political and public organisations that are winning over voters, developing their support bases, formulating their proposals on the country’s political, economic and social development, and gaining a public and political tribune for expanding their influence.
I would like to hear your assessments and put to you the same traditional question that I asked your colleagues from the parliamentary parties, namely, what proposals do you have (and if you have them, I’d like to hear about them today) with respect to the work on the Annual Address to the Federal Assembly. This is not a formal act, though the law does provide for it, but an event that shapes our work together for at least the coming year and is the chance to set longer-term political, economic and social goals. I would therefore like to hear your views. That is all I wanted to say for a start.