President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear friends!
Your congress is taking place at an important time for the country when we need to keep working on our ongoing objectives without stopping even for a second, and when at the same time an election campaign is already underway and the battle has begun for seats in the next parliament.
An election period is always a difficult and crucial time for any political party, including, of course, for United Russia.
I won’t hide the fact that I voted for your party four years ago. I know the difficulties you went through in creating the party – difficulties linked to ideology, which is never a straightforward task. It’s easy to use the so-called “administrative resource” to set up political organisations in the regions or in Moscow, but it is a lot more difficult to give a party or movement an ideological foundation. I am, of course, aware of the difficulties you have had to overcome in the course of creating this foundation.
I am also aware of the administrative and personnel difficulties that you have faced in Moscow and in the regions. There is no secret here. I say this openly here today because you all know about it, and your voters are all aware of it. But I really haven’t once regretted voting for your party, because you have managed to create a grouping of centrist factions in the State Duma that, it is no exaggeration to say, has supported the interests of the state in the most vital areas of our country’s development.
Your party has proven over this time that it was created not for the sake of a one-off victory, but for long-term work that produces results. United Russia is the political force that has created a powerful centrist bloc in the State Duma. You have most consistently worked to pass laws of great importance for the country. And it has not always been easy to explain to people why this or that decision was necessary. There are still a lot of stereotypes that hold fast today, remnants of the past that linger in our consciousness and seep into our daily life. But you and your parliamentary deputies were not afraid to go ahead with your work, setting a good example for others to follow. It is you who have fought the hardest to pass the laws the country needs, and this has enabled you to build up the political potential that befits a party seeking the role of leading political force. I hope that you will know how to make use of this unique resource in the Duma elections.
This year will mark the fourth time that Russia holds elections under its new electoral system, the democratic system that has been in place in our country for a decade now. Over these years, freedom of choice, political competition, democracy and openness have become the norm in political life and have ensured the election of a professional and functioning parliament formed to a large extent on a party basis. Clearly, the democratic electoral process itself does much to encourage the formation of party organisations in society. The elections in December should help resolve new tasks. Above all, they should help form a political system in Russia based on a mature civil society and responsible state power.
The party-building process has taken some noticeable strides forward of late. The country now has political parties that do not just influence the state decisions that get taken, but that take decisions themselves, don’t simply play up to circumstances, but take responsibility upon themselves and are already in a position to supervise the activities of the executive authorities. This is important; it is a new factor in our political system overall and in party life in our country. And among these influential parties, United Russia is undoubtedly the leader.
Over recent years, the State Duma, and I want to speak now about the parliament in general, has become a genuinely effective, professionally working legislative body that has given the country the laws it needed to be able to begin modernising and developing. Without these laws, there could not be sufficient stability to be able to move ahead. Finally, another important fact: your parliamentary party is represented now not just at federal level, but also in the legislative assemblies of the country’s regions. Your representatives have been elected governors and mayors. I’m thinking not just of the party’s founding fathers, but also of new members that have already been elected, with the party’s support, to these high posts. United Russia is becoming a real instrument for uniting society. Through our joint efforts, we have achieved social-political and economic stability. For the first time in many years we are not living under the threat of repeat economic crises and cataclysms. But life does not stand still and is always coming up with new goals for us. I spoke of these goals in the annual address to the Federal Assembly. The most important priorities for work have been discussed in detail with the country’s leading public and political forces, and are the subject of public discussion today. I repeat once again that these goals are to double the GDP in the next 10 years, to fight poverty and to modernise the Armed Forces.
That, at its most concise, is what we have to do. Of course, there are in reality many more important tasks, and all of us must work on their solution, and Russia’s political parties, especially those that have a real chance of victory in the State Duma elections must take an active part in this work. But just to work on the tasks at hand and live only in the present is not enough. Political parties should always be several steps ahead, showing society the way forward and formulating new objectives. This means being closely in tune with what people want, what the state and its citizens need, and being able to offer the state and the public a future strategic agenda for the country’s development. This means standing up for the decisions that are in keeping with people’s hopes and desires. This is the only way not just to win votes, but more importantly, to win the trust of the voters.
Parties taking part in elections, all the more so if they hope to get the majority in the Duma, should always remember that political power is above all about serving people. This is the only way to consolidate state power and society and its citizens, to mobilise the entire people and state in order to achieve the key national objectives we have set.
Esteemed participants of this congress,
There is not so much time left now before election day. The voters will say their word in December and pass their judgement, which will be final. This will be a judgement passed on each deputy and on the whole party.
I wish you success.