Congress of United Russia party a weathervane of Russian politics 2009-11-24 04:28:14   Print

    By Xinhua writers Hai Yang, Lu Jingli

    ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- The 11th national congress of the ruling United Russia party which concluded here Saturday has approved a party program defining itself as conservative.

    Analysts said the congress, which served as the "weathervane" of current Russian politics, has once more shown that the so-called Medvedev-Putin tandem remains steady and firm.



    Founded in December 2001, the United Russia party is the largest political party in Russia, which possesses 315 out of the 450 seats of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

    Vladimir Putin was elected head of the party as a non-party member after finishing an eight-year presidential tenure, while Dmitry Medvedev was elected president in March 2008 as a candidate of the party.

    President Medvedev's address at the one-day congress was not originally scheduled but rather temporarily approved by party representatives after Prime Minister Putin opened the gathering of some 3,000 delegates and guests.

    This detail showed the majority of Russian administrative officials and senators still laid stress on the tandem duo between Medvedev and Putin, said the analysts.

    Medvedev in his address spoke highly of the role of the ruling party, hoping that it could fully display its advantages in the future.

    According to local observers, the United Russia party, the president and the prime minister will coalesce in the future to lead Russia in all-round fields including politics, economy, the military, culture and social affairs. The ruling party will continue to serve as a solid basis for the tandem duo.



    A new program of the United Russia party for the next 10 years has been approved at the congress.

    "This is the first policy document of the party which alongside the tasks of improving the quality of life and economic development projects will clearly state our ideology -- Russian conservatism," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov as saying.

    "This is an ideology of stability and development, constant creative renovation of society without stagnation and revolutions," he said.

    According to Gryzlov, the program was based on the priorities stated in the Strategy-2020, the Putin Plan, Medvedev's article "Go, Russia!" and his annual address to the Federal Assembly.

    The analysts said the ruling party from now on will focus on safeguarding order and stability, emphasizing social advancement and harmony, setting goals of modernization while calling for people-orientation.

    They believed such a direction will bring real benefits to the country and its people.

    However, observers were split on the self-definition of the United Russia party.

    Some said the ideology of conservatism was born nature of Russian politics, as the continuation of traditions and moral foundations of Russian society can be regarded as some sort of conservatism.

    Others said there was nothing new in giving the party a tag of Russian conservatism, as the United Russia party has been viewed as social conservatives or liberal conservatives for years.

    In an article published by the Russian weekly magazine Expert a few years ago, Medvedev himself had billed his thinking as "liberal conservatism."



    Addressing the party congress, Putin said the government and the United Russia party will continue to implement post-crisis measures for economic restructuring and development, with five directions prioritized.

    The five priorities mainly focus on ensuring the stable operation of national backbone enterprises and advancing technical revamp and modernization; promoting hi-tech export; developing housing and construction undertakings; boosting domestic demand and creating jobs.

    According to Putin, the primary task for the Russian government at present was to increase household income.

    He specified several measures, including raising pensions, curbing drinking and smoking by young people through legislation and launching programs to boost domestic demand for cars.

    If all these promises could be realized, said the observers, then it would be conducive not only to the Russian economy and the improvement of people's living conditions, but also to consolidating the status of the United Russia party both in the political circles and among the public.

    However, a huge amount of funds is needed to realize these promises, they noted.

    Hit hard by the global financial crisis, the Russian government can hardly fully fund all these projects due to an economy heavily dependent on the export of raw materials like oil and gas.

    Therefore, new policies encouraging the Russians to fully exploit their potentials must be mapped out to achieve the rapid growth of the Russian economy.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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