New Russian Left emerges to oppose Putin
Russia’s ultra Left Front and the opposition Communist Party (KPRF) have made it official - together they will back KPRF chief Gennady Zyuganov in the country’s upcoming presidential elections in which they hope to defeat Vladimir Putin.
Putin, who is currently prime minister, is controversially seeking re-election to the post which he held between 1999 to 2008.
It is a move that some fear could see Russia take a step back in its democratic development.
Zyuganov says - if he is elected - he will abolish censorship, re-introduce direct ballots for regional governors and increase the role of the parliament in Russian politics.
The Left Front, meanwhile, says it will work towards a “peaceful transfer to democracy” by building a broad alliance of social groups.
But this “pledge to democracy” is a mere tactic, says Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Center.
“This new alliance has simply assumed the slogans of the protesting middle classes,” said Gudkov, who also believes the tactic will fail as the middle classes will refuse to vote for Zyuganov.
KPRF and the Left Front as one
In contrast with the Communist Party, whose slogans of giving land back to farmers, factories back to the workers, and power to state councils, the Left Front is a relatively new political force in Russia, having been founded in 2008.
And so far, according to analyst Lev Gudkov, it has been unable to gain much popularity.
At the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Hans-Henning Schröder agrees the Left Front is a weak proposition.
“The leader of the Left Front, Sergei Udaltsov, has gained a certain prominence since his arrest after the demonstrations at the end of December,” said Schröder, “but over all, the potential is very small.”
The Left Front, says Schröder, is seen as more radical and more aggressive than the Communist Party.
“The KPRF has indeed functioned as an opposition in the past few years, but it’s never confronted the system as such - Udaltsov has always gone much further,” said Schröder.
But Gudkov says the two parties do complement one another.
“The Left Front is small but attracts young people, and the KPRF is spread across the whole country and primarily attracts older people,” said Gudkov.