Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Window on Eurasia: ‘Parties of Power’ of CIS Countries Must Develop Closer Ties, Kazakh Politician Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, November 25 – The so-called “parties of power” in the post-Soviet states already cooperation with one another but in the current situation, they should develop “new forms of interaction,” according to the deputy chief of Nur Otan, the Kazakhstan party of this type that is headed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
In comments to the Russian news agency Novosti, Darkhan Kaletayev, who took part in the tenth congress of United Russia last week, said that such cooperation might take the form of “consultations on a permanent basis,” the holding of “regional inter-party forums,” and the establishment of “joint party schools” (www.ia-centr.ru/expert/3014/).
“For a long time,” he said, “we have worked as it were in a vacuum,” even though Nur Otan and United Russia have a great deal in common. Now between the leadership of our parties consultations are taking place in which the forms and mechanisms of mutual cooperation and consolidation will be worked out.”
Speaking on Friday to a group of Kazakhstan and Russian experts, Kaletayev expanded on his ideas about the nature of the “parties of power,” the way he sees them developing, and the reasons that in his view, they should move to cooperate far more closely than they have to date (www.ia-centr.ru/expert/3027/).
“The final goal” of parties like Nur Otan in Kazakhstan and United Russia, he argued, is “to become ‘the party of power,’ and not [just] ‘the party in power.’” That goal, he continued, grew out of the way in which these organizations came into existence in the difficult period after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“One of the instruments with the help of which the founders of our independent states formed the first stabilized models” of the economy and the polity, Kaletayev said, were these parties, which had to deal with “extremely dangerous” situations quickly and efficiently because “the space for experimentation was limited.”
Increasingly, the Kazakhstan party leader said, these parties are all taking on broader tasks. They do not “concentrate their attention only on conducting election campaigns but on the contrary, engage in intensive daily work with the population,” regardless of the political views of any particular citizen.
Moreover, he said, the parties of power exist only “thanks to [their] leader[s].” And consequently, party organizers must do everything in their power not only to support what the leaders want but also to provide a firm foundation for them and for the policies they have committed their countries to.
Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev, Kaletayev said, is committed to the formation of a two-party system in his country. But that is something that will be achieved not by “artificial support” for the opposition but rather by actions designed to allow for “the normal process of the formation of a within system opposition.”
And, he said, Kazakhstan’s party of power like all the others must devote ever more attention to drawing young people into the political process. Passivity in these societies is “an evil and not a good thing. Especially if passivity is shown by the more active part of the population. Young people must see in a party career ‘a social lift.’”
Because of these common goals, Kaletayev continued, “logic dictates the necessity of the further consolidation of parties of power of the post-Soviet states,” cooperation at all levels and in a variety of ways. Only in that way can such parties become a genuine “instrument of the renewal of society.”
And he suggested in response to questions that because United Russia has been more active in many of these directions than any other party of power, it provides a model for the others to emulate, including his own in Kazakhstan, and the basis for the development of cooperation (novgaz.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=297&Itemid=1).
Some officials are certain to view Kaletayev’s proposals as a dangerous threat or a promising means of restoring a kind of post-1991 Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But the post-Soviet developments in these countries, however much convergence there has been in leadership styles, makes that unlikely.
But Kaletayev’s argument is worth paying attention to because it calls attention to the ways in which the partial reintegration of the post-Soviet space may occur, ways below the levels of presidential clubs like the Commonwealth of Independent States but all the more likely to have real influence precisely because they are.
And his argument suggests that the increasing integration of these parties of power will for the next period at least reinforce the divide between many of the post-Soviet states with parties of power, on the one hand, and those post-Soviet states which do not and the West as well, on the other.

No comments: