Liberal Democratic Party of Russia

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Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
Либерально-демократическая партия России
AbbreviationLDPR (English)
ЛДПР (Russian)
LeaderVladimir Zhirinovsky
Parliamentary LeaderVladimir Zhirinovsky
Founded18 April 1992; 29 years ago (1992-04-18)[1][2]
Preceded byLiberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union (LDPSU)
Headquarters1st Basmanny Lane, 3 building 1, Moscow
NewspaperFor the Russian People
Youth wingYouth Organization of LDPR
Membership (2019)295,018[3]
IdeologyMonarchism[4]
Economic interventionism[5]
Social conservatism[6]
Right-wing populism[7][8]
Russian ultranationalism[9][10][11]
Political positionRight-wing[12][13] to far-right[14][15]
Colours  Gold,   Blue (official)
  Light blue (customary)
Slogan«Freedom, Patriotism, Law»
(Russian: «Свобода, патриотизм, закон»)
Seats in the Federation Council
7 / 170
Seats in the State Duma
40 / 450
Governors
3 / 85
Seats in the Regional Parliaments
236 / 3,928
Ministers
0 / 31
Party flag
Flag of the LDPR (Current version).svg
Website
ldpr.ru

LDPR — Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (Russian: ЛДПР — Либерально-демократическая партия России, romanizedLDPR — Liberal'no-demokraticheskaya partiya Rossii)[16][17] is a right-wing populist political party in Russia. It succeeded the Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union (LDPSU) in Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The party has been led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky since its founding.

Opposing both communism and neoliberal capitalism of the 1990s, the party scored a major success in the 1993 Duma elections with almost 23% of the vote, giving it 64 seats of the 450 seats in the State Duma. In the 2016 elections, the party received 13.14% of the vote, giving it 39 seats.

Despite the party's name, it is frequently described as "neither liberal nor democratic".[18] LDPR is centred around Zhirinovsky,[19][8] and the party is often described as populist,[8][20][21] nationalist,[22][23][24] or ultranationalist.[9][25] It has been described as adhering to statism and authoritarianism,[26][27][28][29] and has also been described as fascist,[30][31] though this label has been disputed.[20] The party, part of the "systemic opposition", is considered to be traditionally loyal to the Kremlin.[8][32][33]

History[edit]

Creation[edit]

Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union[edit]

An effectively multi-party system emerged in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s in wake of Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms. A formal law for this purpose was introduced in October 1990. In April 1991, the Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union (LDPSU) became the second officially registered political party in the country.[1]

Former KGB General Philipp Bobkov has stated that "in line with Zubatov's ideas," the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union "proposed creating a pseudo-party controlled by the KGB" to direct the interests and sentiments of certain social groups, however he said that he was against the idea. Former Politburo member Alexander Yakovlev described how KGB director Vladimir Kryuchkov proposed the creation of the party with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at a meeting.[34] He also stated that the Central Committee took over which led to the creation of the Liberal Democratic Party. Yakovlev called the creation of the party a joint effort of the Central Committee and the KGB.[35][36] In the early 1990s, Mayor of St Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak claimed that party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky was a "reserve" KGB captain, and a number of key supporters in the LDPR leadership quit the party, accusing Zhirinovsky of KGB ties.[37]

The outspoken leader of the party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an effective media performer,[1] gained 8% of votes during the 1991 presidential elections.[19] He also supported the August 1991 coup attempt.[38]

Liberal Democratic Party of Russia[edit]

In 1992, the LDPSU broke apart into its regional offsprings and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) was created as its successor in Russia.

1993–2000[edit]

In the 1993 Duma elections, the pro-reform party supporting President Boris Yeltsin, Russia's Choice, received only 15% of the vote and the new Communist Party of the Russian Federation only 12.4%. The LDPR emerged as the winner with 22.9% of the popular vote. In effect, the Russian population was divided to those who supported Yeltsin's reforms and to those who did not. It is regarded that the popularity of Zhirinovsky and his party arose from the electorate's dissatisfaction with Yeltsin and their desire for a non-communist solution.[39]

Zhirinovsky is credited with having successfully identified the problems of ordinary Russians and offering simple remedies to solve them. For example, he has suggested that all leaders of organized crime should be shot and all Chechens deported from Russia.[1] Zhirinovsky also called for territorial expansion of Russia. Many of Zhirinovsky's views are highly controversial and the LDPR's success in the early 1990s shocked observers both inside and outside Russia.[19]

The Duma elected in 1993 was as interim solution and its mandate expired in 1995. During the two years, Zhirinovsky's popularity waned and his party's support was halved in the 1995 elections (11.2%). The Communists emerged as the winners, with 22.3% of the vote.[39]

In the presidential elections of 1996, the LDPR has nominated Vladimir Zhirinovsky as a candidate. Zhirinovsky gained 5.7% of the votes in the first round.

In 1999, the party participated in the elections as a "Bloc of Zhirinovsky" since the Central Election Commission initially refused to register in the election lists of LDPR, which received 6.0% of the votes.[40] In the 3rd State Duma, Zhirinovsky took up the post of Vice Chairman and the post of the head of fraction occupied by his son Igor Lebedev.

2000–2010[edit]

In the presidential election of 2000, the party has again put forward Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who won 2.7% of votes.

In the parliamentary elections of 2003, the party won 11.5% of the votes and received 36 seats.

In the 2004 presidential election, the LDPR nominated Oleg Malyshkin. The party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky was hoping to take the post of Prime Minister in case of Malyshkin's victory on elections. In the end, Malyshkin scored 2% of votes, having lost the election.[41]

In the latest legislative elections in 2007, the LDPR received 5,660,823 votes (8.14%) and received 40 seats in the State Duma.[39]

In the 2008 presidential election, Zhirinovsky was re-nominated as a candidate and scored 9.4% of the vote.

2010–present[edit]

Rally of the LDPR in 2012

In the parliamentary elections of 2011, the party scored 11.7% of the vote and won 56 seats. In the 6th State Duma, Vladimir Zhirinovsky returned to the post of head of the LDPR faction and his son Igor Lebedev has held the position of Vice Chairman of the State Duma. In these elections the LDPR gained over one-fifth of votes in Russian Far East (e. g. Primorsky Krai).

In the presidential elections 2012, the party again put forward by Zhirinovsky, whose campaign slogan for 2012 was "Vote Zhirinovsky, or things will get worse".[42] Proshka, a donkey owned by Zhirinovsky, became prominent during the presidential campaign when he was filmed in an election advertisement video. On the last episode of debates with Mikhail Prokhorov just before the elections, Zhirinovsky produced a scandal by calling those Russian celebrities which supported Prokhorov, including a pop-diva and a veteran of Russian pop scene Alla Pugacheva, "prostitutes" ("I thought you are an artful person, politician, cunning man, but you are just a clown and a psycho", replied Pugacheva. "I am what I am. And such is my charm", replied Zhirinovsky).[43] As a result, Zhirinovsky gained 6.2% of the votes.

In the parliamentary elections in 2016, the party improved its result compared to the previous elections. The LDPR surpassed the center-left party A Just Russia, becoming the third largest party in the State Duma. The LDPR won 39 seats, gaining 13.1% of the vote, nearly reaching the second placed Communist Party, which won 13.3% of votes and 42 seats. Also, the party gained single-member constituencies in Russian Far East (notably in Khabarovsk Krai).

In 2015, Zhirinovsky expressed a desire to participate in the presidential elections in 2018. In the past, key figures in the LDPR other than Zhirinovsky had been discussed as potential presidential candidates, such as Zhirinovsky's son Igor Lebedev as well as his close associates Mikhail Degtyarev, Yaroslav Nilov and Alexei Didenko.[44] After the parliamentary elections of 2016, Zhirinovsky said he would run himself.[45]

On 9 July 2020, the popular governor of the Khabarovsk Krai and member of the LDPR, Sergei Furgal, who defeated the candidate of Putin's United Russia party in elections two years previously, was arrested and flown to Moscow on charges of involvement in the murders of several businessmen in 2004-05.[46] He denied the allegations.[47] Every day since June 11, mass protests have been held in the Khabarovsk Krai in support of Furgal. On 20 July, President Vladimir Putin dismissed Sergei Furgal and appointed Moscow-based politician Mikhail Degtyarev, who is also a member of the LDPR, as acting governor. Several regional lawmakers in Khabarovsk opted to leave the LDPR in protest against Furgal's dismissal.[48] The protests included chants of "shame on LDPR".[49]

Political positions[edit]

The LDPR seeks "a revival of Russia as a great power". It opposes both the Communism of the Soviet Union[50] and neoliberal capitalism. It prefers a mixed economy with private ownership, but with a strong management role reserved for the state. In foreign policy, the party places a strong emphasis on "civilizations". It has supported the restoration of Russia with its "natural borders" (which the party believes include Transcaucasia, Central Asia, Belarus and Ukraine).[51] The LDPR regards the United States and NATO[52] as Russia's main external threats. The party has harshly criticised the discrimination against ethnic Russians in the Baltic states and demanded that they should be given Russian citizenship and protected against discriminatory legislation.[1] The LDPR is also against corruption[53] and enlargement of the European Union, identifying as a Eurosceptic party,[54] instead preferring pan-Slavism.[55] The LDPR also identify as Russian imperialists both in their support for a restored Russian Empire and support for imperialism.[56] Professor Henry E. Hale lists the party's main policy stands as nationalism and a focus in law and order. Although it often uses radical opposition rhetoric, the LDPR frequently votes for government proposals. This has led to speculation that the party receives funding from the Kremlin.[19] Political parties in Russia that had broken the 3% voting barrier and entered the parliament (State Duma) are officially financed by government, according to federal law. As such, all opposition parties in the State Duma are largely funded by the federal budget (e. g. in 2018, LDPR received 99.7% of its funding from the government, CPRF 90%, and A Just Russia 81%).[57][58]

Zhirinovsky has stated that he wants to see a monarch titled "supreme ruler" lead Russia and has promised to shoot his political opponents if elected president.[59][60][61]

Structure and membership[edit]

The party's organization is almost entirely centered on its leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.[19]

The party is in alliance with several parties in the former Soviet republics, including Armenia, Belarus, Estonia and Ukraine.[62][63]

In 2003, the party claimed 600,000 members and had issued 475,000 party cards.[1] According to a 2008 survey by Colton, Hale and McFaul, 4% of the Russian population are loyalists of the party.[19]

Electoral results[edit]

Presidential[edit]

Election Candidate First round Second round Result
Votes % Votes %
1991 Vladimir Zhirinovsky 6,211,007 7.81 Lost
1996 Vladimir Zhirinovsky 4,311,479 5.70 Lost
2000 Vladimir Zhirinovsky 2,026,513 2.70 Lost
2004 Oleg Malyshkin 1,405,315 2.02 Lost
2008 Vladimir Zhirinovsky 6,988,510 9.35 Lost
2012 Vladimir Zhirinovsky 4,458,103 6.22 Lost
2018 Vladimir Zhirinovsky 4,154,985 5.65 Lost

State Duma[edit]

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Rank Government
1993 Vladimir Zhirinovsky 12,318,562 22.92
64 / 450
1st Minority
1995 7,737,431 11.18
51 / 450
Decrease 13 Decrease 3rd Minority
1999 3,990,038 5.98
17 / 450
Decrease 34 Decrease 5th Minority
2003 6,944,322 11.45
36 / 450
Increase 19 Increase 3rd Minority
2007 5,660,823 8.14
40 / 450
Increase 4 Steady 3rd Minority
2011 7,664,570 11.67
56 / 450
Increase 16 Decrease 4th Minority
2016 6,917,063 13.14
39 / 450
Decrease 17 Increase 3rd Minority

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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