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Sunday, January 20, 2019

A tale of two extremists


SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | Moscow, April 6, 2012 21:04
Tags : Moscow elections 2012 | Putin's win | The Communist Party contender Gennady Zyuganov | LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky | Boris Yeltsin’s era | Communist rival in moscow elections | Oleg Artyukov | Nazis Skinheads | |

Among all the brouhaha over Putin's win and the possible irregularities, the media seemed to have forgotten two stalwarts who have bitten dust, just again. This election in general did not expect to bring any surprise apart from a few from bubble-gum generation who thought that Prokhorov will see the day in entire Russia. 

However, it definitely was not going to bring any surprise for two of the leaders who represent the parties at the extremes: The Communist Party contender Gennady Zyuganov and ultra right-wing LDPR’s leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. By securing little more than 17% and 6% of the popular votes respectively, both of them showed why the changing Russia has no patience for such ideologies.
Let’s take Zhirinovsky first. He was always a crackpot and a buffoon rolled in one. But briefly, during Boris Yeltsin’s era, he showed some promise. In fact, in the pre-poll surveys leading to that election, Zhirinovsky was trailing just behind his Communist rival, the same Zyuganov. On the Election Day, Yeltsin came from behind and won the day. But after that, he has merely seen a downward turn. People say that he has a penchant for shooting in his foot. Like this year, just a couple of days prior to the election, during a televised debate, he called one of Russia’s most loved singers, a prostitute. His fate in Moscow sealed there.
But what has happened to the Communist Party? It ruled Russia for so many years and has a well oiled and organised, although fund lacking, organization. It keeps doing reasonably well in Duma elections. But it is also true that it has singularly failed to increase its base beyond pensioners and union workers. But some might like to disagree.
“The administration of the Communist Party says the opposite. They say that the party has been attracting young people very actively. In general, the communists received support from both young and middle-aged individuals. I am not sure whether it is possible to say that the communists only enjoy the support of elderly people,” maintains Oleg Artyukov, a political observer based with Pravda.
Even if the version by the party is taken at the face value, there appears to be some problem somewhere that the party has failed to emerge as a real threat to the established order. Under the circumstances, all fingers raise towards Zyuganov.
“The communists were successful during the parliamentary elections in comparison with the elections in 2007. As for the presidential elections, Zyuganov is not the person who raises sympathies with everyone. He is not very popular even among those who voted for communists during the parliamentary elections. He has been the head of the Communist Party for too long - for nearly 20 years,” adds Artyukov.
It is difficult to clearly predict what feature holds for both the parties. Zhirinovsky will continue to get marginal votes that might increase a bit when the election is not as polarised as it was this time. But even then, he’ll just work as a safety valve for Russia’s neo-Nazis and Skinheads. Beyond that, nobody is ready to his money.
On the other hand, Communist Party has a clear leadership issue. It is better for the party to bid Zyuganov adieu and revitalize itself by reassessing the problems faced by Russian working class and practical, non rhetorical, ways to solve them. Without that, they will be nothing more than an also-ran.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017