In Moscow United Russia held its 16th Convention chaired by Dmitry Medvedev. 728 delegates and more than 2 thousand guests took part in the event: government officials, expert community, mass media, political scientists. The report made by the Party’s head was the key event of the Convention. In this report Dmitry Medvedev summarized the results of the Party’s work for the last five years and of 2016 electoral campaign, analyzed the first months of United Russia’s work in the State Duma, outlined the ways of realizing the Party’s electoral programme and presidential address and indicated the guidelines for party building. United Russia reelected Dmitry Medvedev, heading the Party since the 13th Convention, as leader, Sergey Neverov as Secretary of its General Council (second in command) and Boris Gryzlov as Chairman of the Supreme Council. The General Council is the key body leading the Party between the conventions. The Supreme Council consists of the leading public figures, establishes the Party’s strategy and works on building its reputation.
We are bringing to your attention some Russian experts’ commentaries.
Sergey Neverov, the Secretary of the General Council:
A specific topic of the Convention – internal democracy and professional renewal. More than one third of the different levels secretaries of the Party offices in the regions had been replaced at the conferences that had predated the Convention. The head of United Russia in his report focused on party building, regular rotation and renewal of the governing bodies. At Dmitry Medvedev’s suggestion, the proportion of representation of primary and local offices at the General Council was increased from 20%, as envisioned by the Charter, to 30%.
Dmitry Fetisov, political consultant:
The delegates were happy with the experience got during the discussion and put many things down, at least, the connection in the regions appeared. I think that government officials also learnt something useful. This dialogue is a highly positive development that characterizes the work of the Convention.
If talking about the main day of the Convention’s work, the working environment was constructive, without scandals and intrigues. All the appointments that had been projected, were made; country’s governing bodies were renewed, not to the greatest possible extent, but in accordance with the Charter and still significantly. “New blood”, new names appeared in the governing bodies.
It is evident that United Russia keeps in mind the experience of 2011 and does not hesitate to admit its mistakes (that was obvious from the Party leaders’ rhetoric, the approach to the State Duma electoral campaign and the Convention which can be described as a sum up of the results of this campaign). The response was given to two major public demands – for fresh faces (this happened during the electoral campaign and due to the renewal of the governing bodies) and for the real issues policy. For the first time within my recollection United Russia uses so many figures, provides precise information about the number of problems solved, does its best to satisfy the demand. Looks impressive.
Gleb Kusnetsov, political expert:
The First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration of Russia was invited to the Convention and this looked natural and did not arouse suspicions that the Administration wanted to influence the Party some way. Rather, it is about cooperation. The new leaders appreciate that the previous Administration passed on a successful victorious party without any internal imbalances and conflicts to them. I do not see any problems with the relations of the Presidential Administration and United Russia. Likewise, there is no reason to predict the reconstruction of the party itself, of course, not taking into account some cosmetic things.
Konstantin Kalachev, political consultant:
The Convention looked quite optimistic and it was obvious that United Russia had overcome the crisis of 2011-2012 and had progressed to a new stage. Delivering his speech Dmitry Medvedev talked about political reforms. We usually associate political reforms with the name of Vyacheslav Volodin. And, actually, half of what Medvedev said was about the results of Volodin’s work. They were described as useful.
Both the results of the parliamentary elections and the Convention proved that the fathers of this political reform were right. What was said was enough to understand that Medvedev admitted Volodin as an impactful political operator. And that the relations of Dmitry Medvedev and Vyacheslav Volodin (whatever the appearances and despite efforts to play one off against another and to confront legislative and executive powers) are not just working relations, but they also constructive, based on mutual respect, trust and interests.