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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov's New Plan Is No Comfort

The election strategy of Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov is, to say the least, difficult to fathom at this late stage in the race, and his unveiling Monday of a proposed new coalition government makes the job no easier.


Does Zyuganov believe that by promising to make a figurehead of the president, make an irrelevance of the elections and create new institutions of power that would give Russia something other than elected government, he will gain popular votes?


Or is he still calculating, according to subterranean plans concocted by his right-hand man, Alexei Podeberyozkin, and Yeltsin's erstwhile right-hand man, Alexander Korzhakov, that he can persuade Yeltsin to share power?


Presumably, Zyuganov is appealing to new voters. This would explain the exclusion from the projected State Council of some of his camp's wilder figures such as Viktor Anpilov and the inclusion of people who will not accept his invitation, such as Grigory Yavlinsky. If floating voters turned away from Zyuganov in round one because he seemed too dangerous, the response must be to reassure them.


And the form of the appeal makes sense. While there is a strong fear among many Russians of having Communists back in power, this country also has a strong communal tradition of sobornost, or togetherness, to which Zyuganov's ideas may appeal.


But, why then, the lack of campaigning? Why, although we know the party has made television ads, are they not on air? Have they given up? Or are they still hoping for that deal with Yeltsin?


One possible explanation plays on the assumption that Zyuganov cannot win the election July 3 by expanding his electorate, but Yeltsin can lose it if his voters do not go to the polls. If Zyuganov disappears, with him may go the Communist threat that Yeltsin played against in round one. And if Zyuganov can persuade voters that there is no disaster in store, but just another redistribution of feeding privileges at the state trough, he can appeal to voter cynicism and persuade the uncommitted to stay home.


The Communists have been so tight-lipped about their strategy that it is impossible to say for certain what their intentions are. But one thing is clear. The State Council that Zyuganov proposes is not an elected government with checks and balances of the kind that exist in effective democracies. Russians on July 3 must still choose whether they want a tested model of a political system they can adjust to fit their circumstances, or submit themselves to another experiment based on a romantic notion of sobornost that -- as history has amply shown -- can be so easily manipulated.