Who Needs an Economic Platform?

12.01.2005

This Sunday, Moscow will be electing members of its new City Duma (Parliament) – and there is little doubt that pro-Putin’s United Russia will get majority of the seats. But as The Moscow Times reports, it is not the party’s economic and social platform that is getting it the votes, instead, it is the list of candidates. In the words of Oleg Sechin, a manager who works for a Moscow-based software company:

“To be honest, I don’t like the party itself, but under Luzhkov the city has improved, and I want to keep things the way they are.”

This problem is not unique to Russia. At a recent conference in Ukraine, CIPE met with representatives of the business community, and half of them, when asked about the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Ukraine, admitted to already picking a candidate to vote for. The interesting fact in all of this is that they were not familiar with economic programs of candidates and many of them did not even know whether candidates of their choosing have an economic platform at all.

CIPE’s Iraq political party development program tackles such issues by bringing together Iraqi businesspeople and representatives of the political parties so that they can discuss problems and jointly develop solutions. Is the program working? Well, CIPE’s 2004 survey of the business environment in Iraq revealed that a whopping 72% of respondents were not aware of any political party representing their views. A follow-up survey conducted in 2005, however, showed that only 10% felt that there is no political party that represents their views.

But in Russia it looks like Moscovites do not need to know a candidate’s platform – economic, social, or political. They are ready to vote, but do they know what they are voting for?