Despite Expectations, the Communist Party of Russia is Not Withering Away, Levada Center Sociologist Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 7, 2017)

The KPRF is “one of the few parties which has been able over the course of long years to preserve its core electorate” which remains ideologically attached to it and to have a clear organizational structure, Denis Volkov says, features that make it possible to say that “namely the communists are a real living political party in Russia.”

In a commentary today in “NG-Politiki,” the Levada Center sociologist says that for a time it appeared that Just Russia would take away some of its voters and clout, as the Kremlin intended, but that threat has faded since 2011-2012 along with that alternative party (

And despite the KPRF’s acceptance of the Kremlin’s “rules of the game,” it has “nonetheless been able to preserve both its electorate and a working party structure,” even as its first Soviet-era voters passed from the scene. Moreover, it has shown itself more clever in positioning itself with opposition demonstrators than any other party.

The KPRF has done so, Volkov says, by appealing to the population’s identification with Stalin “as a symbol of a ruler who can correct the situation and ‘impose order.'” It isn’t that the majority of its members are “convinced Stalinists” but rather that they have this image of Stalin and the KPRF exploits it even if other Russians are put off by that fact.

(Volkov doesn’t say, but one could add that the Putin regime’s praise for Stalin in fact makes it easier for the KPRF to do so.)

Some in the KPRF are ready to try to reach out to a broader audience but they are still in a minority, and the party’s traditional position has turned out to be “the correct one” as far as maintaining its position in the political pyramid is concerned, the sociologist continues, because its careful balancing of interests works to its benefit.

The KPRF retains its standing as the second most popular party, after Putin’s United Russia, and its leader, Gennady Zyuganov, despite all the criticism he has received, remains in the top ten of Russian political leaders, largely Volkov suggests because of his frequent appearances on television.

“But to the extent that the KPRF is not a party of a leader type, unlike the LDPR, the approaching change of a leader should not lead to a loss of its electorate which identifies itself with the party, its ideology, the soviet past and the ideals of social justice,” not with this or that leader.

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