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Will Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko be able to make a comeback into active politics?

February 29, 19:35 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
 Grigory Yavlinsky

Grigory Yavlinsky

© ITAR-TASS/Mitya Aleshkovsky

MOSCOW, February 29. /TASS/. One of the oldest political forces of new Russia - the social-liberal Yabloko Party, set up by Grigory Yavlinsky in the 1990s and failing to enter parliament since 2003, is seeking a comeback.

Yavlinsky, who abandoned the post of party chairman back eight years ago, was on Sunday nominated by a congress of Yabloko as candidate for the Russian presidency at the 2018 elections, and will most likely be on top of its list at elections to the State Duma in 2016. Negotiations continue between Yabloko and PARNAS Party of Mikhail Kasyanov and Alexey Navalny about a possible joint list of candidates to the parliamentary elections, but few believe they will succeed given the traditional intractability of Yabloko. Experts differ in opinions as to whether the party will be able to score 5% of the votes to enter parliament. Theoretically, Yabloko has enough supporters for that, but many of them don’t vote at all.

Grigory Yavlinsky presented to the congress a blueprint of his presidential and Duma strategies that aim at winning over several charismatic opposition politicians. Duma’s parliamentarian from A Just Russia Party Dmitry Gudkov and former co-chairman of RPR-PARNAS Vladimir Ryzhkov have already agreed to be Yabloko’s candidates in the Duma campaign. "You can’t even imagine what patterns of the list are being discussed. You will immediately feel bad if you learn this. Or maybe well, on the contrary," Yavlinsky said.

Negotiations with PARNAS continue, but without much success it seems. The option of merging PARNAS with Yabloko looks more realistic, as positions of the latter are objectively stronger nowadays. But there is little chance that PARNAS will opt for this.

Yabloko announced it would not seek election support in any structures established by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, including the Open Russia civic movement.

"They will hardly agree upon drawing up a joint list with PARNAS, and I don’t think we will see them team up," the first vice president of the Center for Political Technologies, Alexei Makarkin, told Tass. "This is an old story, more than 20 years old: attempts to unite Democratic Choice of Russia and Yabloko, SPS and Yabloko, the Right Cause and Yabloko as well as PARNAS and Yabloko. In principle, the task of each of the sides is to blame the second one on the failure of the talks. Yabloko has absolutely no intention to see itself under the flag of PARNAS: Yabloko got 3% at the previous parliamentary elections, this is a certain amount in hand. Now the election threshold has been reduced from 7% to 5%, and they believe they have some chance," he said.

If Yabloko’s rating starts growing by the time of the election and will go beyond 3% by the start of the campaign, we can then see the voters who have never believed in the party, or believed and voted at some point and then left, the expert believes. It they feel Yabloko has real chances, they can step in, as one of the motives behind their not voting for Yabloko is a feeling that the party is failing to clear the threshold".

One cannot fully rule out Yabloko’s getting 5%, the political analyst says. "The government will hardly offer any help to Yabloko, but it won’t stand in its way either: ‘Ok, please, take a chance’. They won’t get any help because of Crimea, Yabloko’s stance on it is principled, and this party is not fitting into the Crimean consensus".

"If you have a look at the electorate of Yabloko and PARNAS - these are the people denouncing Crimea’s incorporation," Makarkin continued. "One could count on the electorate, which is no more than 10%, or maybe less. But in reality, the majority of these voters don’t go to the polling stations. They are disillusioned, this is not interesting to them. Will this resource be enough for at least one party to qualify - this is a very big question," he said.

The director of the Center for Political Studies, Sergey Markov, sees the chances of Yabloko to enter parliament as slight. "The biggest political mistake of Yabloko is that it was against Crimea’s entry into Russia," he told Tass. "The segment of people sharing this point of view is insignificant, and I think that none of the parties insisting that ‘Crimea is not ours’ will get into parliament. Their share is about 10% to 15%, and as several parties are fighting to win over these voters, they won’t have enough votes to clear the threshold of 5%. If they united, they would probably get a chance, but this is unrealistic," he noted.

TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors

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