LDPR AND ZHIRINOVSKY BLOC SET TO RUN IN ELECTION ON SEPARATE SLATES.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 226
Last week, the Central Election Commission (CEC) gave ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his followers until December 4 to decide which list of candidates to put forward for the December 19 State Duma elections. The choice was between the candidates of Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), whose slate the CEC originally rejected but subsequently reinstated, or those of the Zhirinovsky Bloc, which the ultranationalist leader had hastily formed after the CEC rejected the LDPR. According to Russian election law, candidates are allowed to run on only one slate (see the Monitor, December 3).
Strangely, at first glance, none of the seventy-one candidates who appeared on both lists met the December 4 deadline to notify the CEC about which slate they wanted to remain on. The CEC decided to remove them from LDPR’s. While the CEC last week removed Zhirinovsky himself from that slate on the basis of alleged problems with his income and property declarations, the ultranationalist leader nonetheless complained yesterday to Russia’s Supreme Court about the CEC’s December 4 decision. Zhirinovsky is leading the Zhirinovsky Bloc’s slate.
At the same, the remaining LDPR candidates (141 of the original 212) will remain in the race. This means that both the LDPR and the Zhirinovsky Bloc are now set to run in the election, on separate slates. Zhirinovsky could have prevented this situation, because, according to the law governing elections to the Duma, the LDPR slate could have been removed from the ballot if the seventy-one candidates appearing on both slates volunteered to be removed from LDPR’s.
According to one theory, Zhirinovsky–whose popularity has waned as his image as a Kremlin tool has grown–simply wants to use the scandal to get as much publicity as possible prior to election day. His LDPR candidates will drop out of the race en masse before election day, allowing the Zhirinovsky Bloc to run alone to give Zhirinovsky a better chance at winning. The other theory, however, is that the Kremlin is using the scandal over Zhirinovsky’s candidates as a possible pretext for launching a legal challenge to the election and nullifying its results–if the results turn out to be, as a newspaper put it today, “too inconvenient” (Kommersant, December 7; Russian agencies, December 6).
There is a third possibility: that the Kremlin sees the controversy as a way of postponing the Duma election. Indeed, Zhirinovsky said today that he intends to ask the Supreme Court to consider the possibility of “canceling the presidential decree setting the date of parliamentary elections for December 19,” and instead hold parliamentary and presidential elections simultaneously in June 2000. He charged that CEC decisions had misled voters and could reduce the number of seats his party wins in the Duma (Russian agencies, December 7).
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