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1995 Duma Elections


The period between 1993 and 1995 saw what had seemed impossible only a few years before the reemergence of the Communist Party. In 1993 President Yeltsin lifted the ban, which he had imposed on the party after the failed hard-line coup in August 1991. Renamed the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), the party, which by then had lost millions of members, regrouped around a second echelon of functionaries, with a former deputy head of the Central Committees ideology department, Gennady Zyuganov (b. 1944), emerging as the leader. 

Gennady Zyuganov

Building on a surviving network of activists in the provinces and on a growing nostalgia for the certainties of the Soviet past especially among the older generation the Russian Communists quickly restored their grassroot political structures and delivered an impressive victory in the 1995 parliamentary elections. Leaving far behind the hastily constructed pro-government bloc Our Home Is Russia and the 1993 favorite, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Communists virtually took control of the lower house, the Duma.

December 1995 Elections to the State Duma 

Successful parties/blocs Party-list votes (%)
Communist Party (Gennady Zyuganov) 22.30
Liberal-Democratic Party (Vladimir Zhirinovsky) 11.18
Our Home Is Russia (Victor Chernomyrdin) 10.13
Yabloko (Grigory Yavlinsky) 6.89

The party that formed the core of the pro-reform majority of the old Duma the liberal Russias Choice, led by the former acting prime minister Yegor Gaidar failed even to get the 5 percent of the vote needed to be represented in parliament. That was a clear indication that the 1995 parliamentary elections were a large-scale protest vote against the hardships brought on by the tough program of economic reform.

Out of the forty-three blocs registered for the 1995 parliamentary election, only four managed to overcome the 5 percent threshold needed to enter parliament. The inability of the overwhelming majority of political parties to gain the required percentage of votes was a clear indication of the fragmentation of the political spectrum. Most parties were still in embryo and were parties in name only. Most of them were centered in the capitals of Moscow and St. Petersburg and had weak regional and national positions. The Communist Party was the only mass party claiming to have the membership of half a million people.

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