Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Back in the USSR

Putin may be in charge, but there's another group hoping to regain power and glory.

Russia’s Communist Party finds itself at a familiar crossroads
Russia’s restless electorate bestowed a big bouquet of votes on the country’s Communists last month, putting the party of Lenin in position to either rally a new generation behind its red banners or stay reliably on the sidelines, repeating the old slogans and mourning the past.

The Communist Party took 19.19 percent of the vote to come in second in the Dec. 4 parliamentary election, an unexpected windfall for the party and a surprise to the rest of the country.

Though it has offices in small towns and cities around Russia, with portraits of Stalin on the wall and hammer-and-sickle flags in the corner, ready to unfurl, its message has remained unchanged as its members have aged over the past 20 years: The glorious achievements of the Soviet Union are being systematically destroyed and only it can save Russia from moral degradation…

Communist theory has always maintained that history is on its side, however…

The December election set off a paroxysm of anger among Russians who called it rigged, refusing to believe that Putin’s party had gotten even close to half the votes…

The Communists rely on a small but cohesive core of members, who number 154,244, according to the Ministry of Justice, compared with United Russia’s 2,073,722 members. Many party members are in their 50s or 60s and dwell psychologically in the Soviet Union, said Boris Makarenko, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies. The protest voters make less than ideal fellow travelers, concentrated as they are in the big cities among the urban middle class. It will not be easy to profit from the windfall, he said…

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