A PROFUSION OF PARTIES and blocs is crowding the Russian political scene; it seems a prominent politician announces the formation of a new group almost every week. Already the Justice Ministry has recorded 259 political parties, movements, and associations that have officially registered to collect the 200,000 signatures necessary to compete in the December parliamentary elections.1 Dozens of those groups, especially the ones with well-known leaders, could win a seat in one or more of the 225 single-member constituencies. However, very few have broad-based national support, and - as in the December 1993 elections - no more than eight to 10 electoral associations are likely to clear the 5 percent barrier necessary to win any of the 225 places reserved for party lists in the 450-seat State Duma.

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