Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 161

The Communist party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) was the biggest winner in the election to the Duma, according to full results issued yesterday. Gennady Zyuganov’s party will control more than a third of the Duma’s 450 seats. The full returns from the December 17 election give the KPRF 22.31 percent of the vote by party lists, where 225 seats were adjudicated. This gives the KPRF about 100 seats — twice as much as the runner-up Zhirinovsky party. In addition, 58 Communist candidates won in single-mandate constituencies where the other 225 Duma seats were decided. Unofficial estimates show that the Communists would get almost 160 Duma seats — short of a 226-vote majority needed to pass its own legislation but enough to impose the party’s will in alliance with other hard-line groups, and certainly enough to block laws proposed by the government which the communists oppose. (11)

The post-Soviet constitution, with its strong Presidency and separation of powers, in practice will prevent the communists and their allies in the new parliament from imposing quick radical changes of policy on their own. That could happen if they commanded two-thirds of the Duma now, and then win the presidential election next June. The communist success has made it more likely that Gennady Zyuganov, their leader, will decide to run for President, despite his lack of charisma. If presidential aspirations are now uppermost in his calculations, he probably is happy that his party will not have the power in the new Duma that might oblige it to start putting its policies into practice. Otherwise, he would have to go before the electorate in six month’s time at least partly responsible for whatever will then be the country’s situation. Zyuganov, who knows his party will have trouble capturing the presidency without attracting allies from other blocs, has already started holding strategy sessions to merge forces with other opposition groups.

Italian Firm Gets Cold Feet on Telecom Deal.