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Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 15:11 GMT
Analysis: Russia's new balance of power
Left, Right and Centre: Zyuganov, Putin and Primakov
Leaders of Left, Right and Centre: Zyuganov, Putin, Primakov
By BBC News Online's Stephen Mulvey

The Kremlin has hailed Russia's general election as a "peaceful revolution" because centrists and pro-government forces will now replace the Communist Party as the dominant force in parliament.

Russia at the Polls
What's at stake
Who's who
Russia's regions
There is now a prospect that the battles between parliament and president that have marred Russia's post-Soviet history will give way to a more co-operative relationship - but this is by no means inevitable.

The government is a long way from having a parliamentary majority, and the Communists will remain the largest single bloc in the parliament, with roughly a quarter of seats.

Share of vote with 90% of results in
Communist Party: 24.3%
Unity: 23.2%
Fatherland-All-Russia: 13.1%
Union of Rightwing Forces: 8.6%
Zhirinovsky Bloc: 6%
Yabloko: 6%
In the last parliament they had more than a third, and were often able to mobilise their allies in other parties to block government legislation. Their power to do so will from now on be much reduced.

However, some centrists have a record of opposition to Yeltsin governments, despite their support in principle for moves towards a market economy.

So this election is likely to be less of a clear watershed, than another move in a steady sea change. The parliament will be hung between Centrists, Left and Right wingers, and the government may still have to resort to threats and blandishments to win its support.

Gennady Zyuganov: not waving goodbye
Gennady Zyuganov: not waving goodbye
In recent years, full-frontal ideological clashes between executive and legislature have anyway become a rarity.

The Kremlin has been able to pass austerity budgets that satisfy the International Monetary Fund, because the Communists failed to mount a united opposition. Communist attempts to impeach the president have lacked real determination.

Of other parties that will be represented in the new parliament -

  • The ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, has typically voted with rather than against the government at key moments. It took part in the last election under the name "Zhirinovsky's Bloc".

  • The liberal, pro-reform Yabloko party, headed by the young economist Grigory Yavlinsky, has sometimes been the government's harshest critic. It wants a market economy, but describes Russia's system as "bandit capitalism".

  • The pre-election antagonism between the government and the centrist Fatherland-All Russia party is unlikely to be quickly forgotten, particularly as another campaign - for the presidential election in June - is just about to begin.

    It's very likely that Yabloko and Fatherland-All Russia, headed by former prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, will sometimes vote with the Communist Party against the government.

    The number of seats a party receives depends not only on the number of votes it received nationally as a party, but also on the number of its candidates elected in local constituencies - each voter chooses both a party and a candidate.

    Vladimir Zhirinovsky often supports the Kremlin
    Vladimir Zhirinovsky often supports the Kremlin
    Half of the 450 seats in the parliament are awarded to the parties in proportion to the number of votes they received - as long as they received more than five per cent of the vote. This time six parties crossed that threshold.

    The other 225 seats are awarded to the victor in each of the country's 225 constituencies, many of whom are independent candidates without party affiliations.

    Although the Communist Party and Unity received roughly an equal share of the vote, the Communists will have a larger faction in parliament, because more of their candidates were successful in the constituencies.

    However, Unity and the other pro-government party, the Union of Right-Wing forces, will together be almost as strong as the Communists.

    The other half of the parliament will include representatives of the centrist parties, Fatherland-All Russia and Yabloko, and other broadly centrist independent candidates.

    There are also likely to be colourful candidates not only from Zhirinovsky's Bloc, but also among the independents, and representatives of other lesser-known radical parties.>

  • See also:

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