AS THE 17 DECEMBER STATE DUMA ELECtions draw near, the Western press has begun sounding the alarm of a communist comeback. Bolstered by victories in several regional elections this year, Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) is poised to win more Duma seats than any other party. However, its bright prospects are more indicative of the weaknesses of its competitors than of surging support among Russians for a return to the Soviet past. The KPRF benefits from a number of favorable conditions, including a stable constituency, the fragmented Russian political spectrum, and the Russian electoral system, which neutralizes what could otherwise be major weaknesses in the party.

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