Political Parties in Russia, Challenges and Voter Dynamics

A wide variety of political parties that have sway over the country’s governance and decision-making processes characterize Russia’s political landscape. Even though there are many political parties, a few major players have a great deal of influence on the political landscape. These key players influence the political course of the country collectively because of their disparate beliefs, various historical backgrounds, and varying degrees of authority.

Understanding these parties’ operations is essential to understanding Russia’s political structure. While there are many parties involved, a small number of them control and shape the majority of the scene. These powerful organizations frequently have long histories, contrasting political ideologies, and different levels of authority within the political system. Gaining an understanding of these main parties’ objectives, strategies, and working methods is essential to appreciating the subtleties and complexity of Russia’s political system.

Historical Context

Significant changes occurred in Russia’s political environment when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), which had been the exclusive ruling party for a while, lost its hegemonic authority. This change opened the door for different political groups and ideologies to arise across the nation.

There was a liberal and pro-market party explosion in Russia in the 1990s, calling for democratic changes and the creation of a free-market economy. During this time, groups supporting market-driven economic policies, individual liberties, political pluralism, and liberal democratic ideas rose to prominence.

From the Communist ideology that had long dominated Soviet politics, these new political forces marked a break. In post-Soviet Russia, they aimed to advance free-market ideals, democratic values, and a more diverse political environment. The socialist economic policies and centralized control of the past gave way to a more diversified and ideologically pluralistic political environment during this period.

Also Read: Top 15 Biggest Political Parties In The World

List of Registered Political Parties in Russia

Within the Russian political scene, these parties represent a range of ideologies and political positions, ranging from liberal and ecological to nationalist and right-wing. Their representation and impact might shift depending on political conditions and public opinion. Below are details of the major parties in Russia, their ideologies, and their focus.

  1. Unite Russia Party
  2. Communist Party of the Russian Federation
  3. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR)
  4. Patriots of Russia
  5. Russian United Democratic Party (YABLOKO)
  6. Just Russia Party
  7. Party of Growth 
  8. People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS)
  9. New People
  10. Democratic Party of Russia
  11. Progressive Party
  12. Spravedlivaya Rossiya Patrioty Za pravdu (SRPZP)
  13. Communist Party of Social Justice
  14. Russia of the Future
  15. Russian Ecological Party (Greens)
  16. Communists of Russia
  17. Russian National Union
  18. Russian Party of Freedom and Justice
  19. Russian Party of Pensioners for Social Justice
  20. RODINA
  21. Noviye Lyudi Party
  22. Cossack Party of the Russian Federation 
  23. Green Alternative Party
  24. Party of Direct Democracy

1. United Russia Party

For years, this party has dominated Russian politics. It backs the current president, Vladimir Putin, and pushes for conservative ideas in general. It has a majority in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, which gives it enormous legislative influence.

United Russia, which was founded in 2001, is the ruling party and enjoys a dominant position in the Russian political scene. It is closely affiliated with President Vladimir Putin and is recognized for its conservative position, which advocates for national unity and stability. United Russia’s hegemony in the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Federal Assembly, has given it enormous policymaking power.

2. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF)

This party has its origins in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It is one of Russia’s main opposition parties, promoting socialist ideals, workers’ rights, and a mixed economy. Despite resistance, it has kept a seat in the State Duma.

The CPRF, a successor to the Soviet-era Communist Party, is a powerful opposition group. Although its prominence has declined since the Soviet era, it continues to have a following among some populations, notably elderly generations nostalgic for the Soviet era. The party opposes neoliberal economic practices and calls for social justice and a bigger role for the state in the economy.

3. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR)

Despite its name, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia is not typically liberal in the Western sense. This party is more nationalist and right-wing, pushing for a strong state, conservative values, and a severe attitude toward law and order until Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s death in 2022.

Despite its name, Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s LDPR advocates nationalist and populist ideology rather than purely liberal values. Zhirinovsky’s charismatic leadership has assisted the party in maintaining a steady presence in Russian politics, frequently taking unpopular and provocative views.

4. Patriots of Russia

In April 2005, the Patriots of Russia became a left-wing political organization. Following his expulsion from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation due to an internal power struggle with Gennady Zyuganov, Gennady Semigin created this party.

5. Yabloko

The Yabloko Party promotes liberal principles, including democratic reforms, human rights, and free-market economic policies. While the party has always been active in the State Duma, it has struggled to gain significant support in recent elections. Yabloko is well-known for its support of democratic ideals and social liberalism, and it remains devoted to these beliefs.

6. Just Russia

It is a center-left party that arose from the amalgamation of numerous minor organizations. It advocates for social justice, welfare programs, and workers’ rights as part of its support for social democracy. It has been regarded as a component of the systematic opposition, collaborating with the government on some matters.

Just Russia, formed in 2006 by the merging of numerous minor organizations, describes itself as a social-democratic party. It promotes social welfare, economic equality, and a well-balanced foreign policy. While not directly opposing the government, it does criticize United Russia on occasion and supports some progressive changes.

7. Party of Growth

On the basis of the Right Cause Party, the Russian liberal-conservative Party of Growth was born in March 2016. Their main goals are to defend democratic ideals, a liberal free market economy, and the interests of the middle class. They have members sitting in many municipal legislatures. Since the party’s founding, Boris Titov has led it. Interestingly, the party supports the All-Russia People’s Front, which is pro-Putin.

8. PARNAS (People’s Freedom Party)

This party is associated with opposition politicians and advocates for democratic changes. Its worldview is based on promoting democratic reforms within the Russian political system. It typically aligns with opposition people and groups, advocating for democratic changes.

9. New People (Russian Party)

The New People in Russia is a more recent party, formed in 2020, that came to prominence supporting new ideas and generational shifts. It promotes generational shifts and new viewpoints. This younger party aims to change the political scene by introducing fresh concepts and methods.

10. Democratic Party of Russia

In 1990, the Democratic Party of Russia (DPR) emerged as a political party on the right. Under the leadership of Andrey Bogdanov, the party promoted Russia’s possible EU admission. It united with other organizations to form the Right Cause in 2008. However, the DPR emerged again as a separate body, obtaining formal registration in 2012.

11. The Progressive Party

In 1912, a group of moderate Russian liberals gave rise to the Progressive Party, sometimes known as the Progressists. Among the prominent members of this group were Ivan Nikolaevich Efremov, Aleksandr Konovalov, and Pavel Ryabushinsky; there were 25 deputies in the Third Duma and 48 in the Fourth. The Progressists established a partnership and were essential to the Progressive Bloc in the Fourth Duma, working closely with the Constitutional Democrats in the previous two Dumas. Efremov and Konovalov joined the Provisional Government after the February Revolution.

12. SRPZP

The left-leaning SRPZP (Spravedlivaya Rossiya—Patrioty—Za Pravdu) party presently has 27 MPs in the parliament, serving as the opposition’s representation. Its worldview is considered that of the oppositional left-wing party, which prioritizes social justice and the truth. It has 27 members of parliament at the moment.

13. Communist Party of Social Justice

Originally registered as the Communist Party of Social Justice in 2012, the Russian Party of Freedom and Justice is a political organization in Russia.

14. Russia of the Future

Russia of the Future, formerly known as the Progress Party and once called the People’s Alliance, is an unregistered opposition political organization in Russia. Leonid Volkov initially created it on December 15, 2012, and Alexei Navalny, who also formed the non-profit Anti-Corruption Foundation, revived it on May 19, 2018.

15. Russian Ecological Party (The Greens)

Within the Russian Federation, a green political organization is the Russian Ecological Party, or “The Greens”. Founded in 1992 under the name Constructive-Ecological Movement of Russia (Kedr), it changed its name to the Russian Ecological Party (The Greens) in 2002. Notably, during the 2018 Russian presidential election, the party declared its support for Vladimir Putin.

16. Communists of Russia

In Russia, the Communist Party—also referred to as “Communists of Russia” or just “Communists of Russia”—is an anti-revisionist Marxist–Leninist political organization. Originally founded as a public non-commercial organization in May 2009, it officially became a political party in April 2012.

17. Russian National Union

Within Russia, the Russian National Union functioned as a neo-Nazi organization. It is crucial to distinguish this party from the Russian National Unity, a more expansive group with comparable beginnings but no formal connections to the Russian National Union.

18. Russian Party of Freedom and Justice

The Communist Party of Social Justice was the name under which the Russian Party of Freedom and Justice was first established and formally registered in 2012.

19. Russian Party of Pensioners for Social Justice

The Party of Pensioners, also known as the Russian Party of Pensioners for Social Justice, is a legally recognized political organization in Russia.

20. RODINA

Right-wing Rodina (Vserossiyskaya politicheskaya partiya ‘Rodina’) Party presently has one

MP serves as its representative in the parliament’s opposition. Based on a right-wing party, it has one MP serving as an opposition MP in parliament. It embodies right-wing political ideas and shares nationalist ideals.

This party is well-known for its nationalist views and for having supported traditional values in the past in addition to anti-immigration laws. Its philosophy is based on nationalism, traditional values, and historical opposition to immigration. Though this presence has gradually decreased, it formerly included members who supported conservative and nationalist ideals.

Also Read: List of Political Parties in the USA

21. Noviye Lyudi

With 13 members in the parliament, the party of undefinable orientation known as NL (Noviye Lyudi) presently represents the opposition. Among its traits are its undefinable orientation and its 13 seats in the opposition in parliament right now. The philosophy of this party may be more ambiguous or changeable, making it difficult to classify.

22. Cossack Party of the Russian Federation

Created in 2012, the Cossack Party of the Russian Federation aimed to reflect the current issues and goals of the Cossack people. The party, which focuses on conservative issues, highlights traditional family values and patriotism as major tenets of its policy.

23. Party of Direct Democracy

In Russia, the Direct Democracy Party, formally registered as the Party of Direct Democracy, is a recognized political organization.

24. The Greens – The Green Alternative

One of Austria’s leading green political parties is The Greens – The Green Alternative, or Die Grunen – Die Grüne Alternative in German. The party was originally known as “Green Alternative” and was formed in 1986 through the consolidation of the more progressive Alternative Liste Osterreichs (Alternative List Austria, ALO, founded in 1982) and the relatively conservative Vereinte Grüne Osterreichs (United Greens of Austria, VGO, founded in 1982).

As “Austrian Greens” in English, it has formally adopted the name Die Grunen – Die Grune Alternative (Grune) since 1993. Even after the party was unified, differences between the former members of the VGŖ and ALO groups are still visible, dictating different approaches on the national and local levels.

Also Read: Major Political Parties In India And Their Roles

Challenges, Controversies, and Future Prospects

There are issues and disagreements in the Russian political sphere. Critics frequently point to limits on independent media, bans on opposition parties, and claims of anomalies in elections to support their claims that the system does not actually support plurality. There are worries about the consolidation of authority because of the concentration of power within the United Russia and President Putin’s extended term.

Political parties in Russia are not sure where they will end up. External influences, generational upheavals, and changing socio-political dynamics might all affect these parties’ future directions. The pursuit of modernization, economic growth, and social transformations can lead to the formation of new political groups or the restructuring of preexisting ones.

Social Composition of Voters in Russia

According to research conducted in 2007, voters in United Russia tended to be younger and more focused on the market than the typical voter. The majority of the party’s supporters were state-dependent individuals, including government workers, retirees, and members of the armed forces.

Remarkably, women made up about 64% of United Russia supporters, which may have something to do with their focus on stability, as some studies have hypothesized. There was a significant increase in young support for United Russia ahead of the 2011 Duma elections.

In April 2023, Russians participated in a poll about the dissolution of the United Russia Party. The study sought to ascertain the public’s response to the plan, given that the nation’s constitution declares the people to be the source of power.  

There were about 2,500 competitors, most of whom were over 45. The following were the answers given to the question, “Should the United Russia Party be dissolved considering its members’ inability to engage in future political activities?” A total of 26% argued for the dissolution of all bourgeois parties, while 65% supported dissolution without the possibility of future political activity, 3% opposed dissolution entirely, and 6% supported dissolution with that possibility.

Nonetheless, the results of this study indicated more profound feelings—a broad discontent with the policies of the governing party. The main points of criticism were laws and policies that were thought to be against the interests of the people, a detachment from the everyday lives of ordinary citizens, and the idea that bourgeois lawmakers were unaware of the hopes and dreams of the common man, something they might not look for or give priority to.

Also Read: Political Parties in the UK

Conclusion

To sum up, political parties in Russia embody an intricate network of beliefs, authority structures, and past traditions. In a system that is sometimes seen as favoring the ruling party, some parties continue to have a considerable impact, while others find it difficult to gain ground. These parties’ interactions impact Russia’s political environment and the country’s course.

Russia has come under fire in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union for having a strictly regulated political system that leaves little opportunity for alternative political groups. Numerous smaller parties than the major ones on this list are among the numerous others that are denied official registration. Comprehending the subtleties of these political entities is important to grasping the complexities of Russia’s political system and its continuous development.

Also Read: Top Political Parties in Germany

FAQs

What Party does Putin belong to?

Vladimir Putin is running for president, and the assembly has unanimously decided to back him. Furthermore, United Russia was chosen as the new name for the party, replacing Unity and Fatherland – United Russia.

Does Russia have a Communist Party?

In the past, the Soviet Union had only one party: the Communist Party. Even though it is currently one of several parties, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation continues to be the second-biggest party in Russia.

Is there a Democratic Party in Russia?

Established in 1990, the conservative Democratic Party of Russia, often known as DPR (Demokraticheskaya Partiya Rossii), is a political organization in Russia. The party supported Russia’s admission into the European Union under Andrey Bogdanov’s leadership.

Is Russia a Capitalist Country?

The Russian economy is unstable. Its institutional framework has changed from a communist command economy to a capitalist market economy since 1989. Its industrial structure underwent a significant transformation, moving from significant investments in manufacturing and agriculture to market services, mining, and oil and gas extraction.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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