Communists leader to run for president

Russia's main opposition party, the Communists, have nominated their presidential candidate. The party's leader, Gennady Zyuganov, has been selected after a ballot held during their annual congress.

According to an earlier vote, Zyuganov won nearly 100 per cent support from party members.

Gennady Zyuganov, twice a runner-up, is ready to take on all comers in the presidential election.

“Russia has once again reached a turning point. There is only one way out of the current crisis. That's the return to those values propagated by the real patriots of this nation, the Communists. The clock of history strikes to the beat of the left,” he said at the party congress on Sunday.

But does the dramatic rhetoric match the mood of the electorate?

From its peak position in the 1990s as Russia's most popular party in two consecutive elections, the Communists have now settled on a smaller and declining share of around 10 per cent of the electorate.

The Party refuses to transform itself into a European style social-democratic movement.

If elected, Zyuganov promises to nationalise much of Russia's industry and quadruple pensions and state salaries.

Whilst the legacy of the Communist ideology is everywhere few want to see its manifesto resurrected in full.

Besides, 16 years of opposition without ever being in government have induced voter fatigue and scepticism.

Gennady Zyuganov won 40 per cent of the vote running against Boris Yeltsin in 1996, but according to recent opinion poll only 4 per cent plan to vote for him this time.

The Communists complain the establishment is siphoning off its electorate.

Indeed, the Kremlin-backed left-leaning Fair Russia won nearly 8 per cent of the vote in the parliamentary elections.

Besides, the government's foreign policy echoes many of the Communists own slogans.

Still, amongst his supporters Gennady Zyuganov is as popular as ever. But as living standards rise, and his voters age, he risks preaching to an ever-shrinking choir of the converted.