Lyndon at Scraps of Moscow reflects on the role of the Communist Party in Russia today. It has been the organising force behind many of the recent anti-Putin protests that have swept across the length and breadth of Russia, and is, to all extents and purposes, the only effective opposition party in Russia today:
The Communist Party (KPRF) may be “old” in several senses – the name’s been around for awhile, the stone-faced Gennady Zyuganov sometimes looks like Lenin’s mummification specialists have been using him for practice, and their support does come from the elderly – but I don’t think the Party is “unreconstructed” (wiser commenters may correct me, but I believe the conventional wisdom on them now is that they are not far to the left of West European Social-Democratic parties), and I think the Rodina Party is much more of a nest of nationalists and far more dangerous in that respect than the KPRF.
Actually, the KPRF has been the main opposition party in Russia for most (if not all) of the last decade. I haven’t followed it’s fortunes all that closely for a few years but, several years back, it seemed to have comfortably reconciled itself to working within the new, more democratic, system. In the late 1990s the KPRF dominated the Duma and, instead the legislative process grinding to a halt before a brick wall of communist obstruction, the Duma during that period was one of the most effective in Russia’s (short) post-Soviet history.
It’s greatest weakness is said to be its ageing membership who are nostalgic for the security – not to mention the pensions – of the Soviet era. But, based on personal observation of a fairly large number of pro-Communist students, and the KPRF’s shrewd decision to incorporate students angry at the threats to their draft-exempt status into the recent protests, I reckon support for the KPRF is comfortably on the rise.
If – big if – they can hang onto recent gains and at the same time Putin’s popularity continues to decline, I wouldn’t bet against the Russian electorate rejecting an ‘establisment’ candidate and voting the Communists back into power.