Zyuganov: Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride

Charles Clover of the Financial Times has a good piece on Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov’s role as Vladimir Putin’s insurance policy.  Is there any other leader that lost this many elections and continues to be the party’s candidate?

Mr Zyuganov’s long stewardship of the Communist party exemplifies the primacy of “managed” democracy in Russia, where every four years Mr Putin has faced a hand-picked and carefully vetted field of proven losers. In Russia, losing politicians have a near endless afterlife, like a much-loved sitcom in perpetual syndication.

“Most normal parties, you get two, three elections maximum,” says Alexei Mitrofanov, a Duma deputy from the Just Russia party. “But nowhere else in the word does this happen, a party fields a candidate four or five times who has such a track record. This is our own uniquely Russian tradition.” (…)

Mr Mitrofanov says he doesn’t believe Mr Zyuganov is actually ordered to fail. “He has the ambition to win, but he is just very cautious – a characteristic typical of a central committee apparatchik.

“And it because of this that he has stayed at the helm [of the party] for so many years.”