LM Comment
  11:18 pm GMT
Current Archive Subscribe
Comment LM Search Archives Subject index Links Overview FAQ Toolbar
18 December 1995

No Return to Communism in the CIS

The early returns from the elections for the State Duma in the former Soviet Union suggest a return to power for the old Communist Party. While this is hardly surprising given the dreadful economic conditions, the current communists are about as socialist as Tony Blair. The communist parties in eastern Europe have little connection with communism and far more with the austerity measures of their neo-liberal counterparts in the west. Party leader Gennady Zyuganov is a 'communist' who supports market reforms and a pro-western foreign policy. He has been at pains to promise that the Wet has nothing to fear from the election of the former communists to power.

It is reported that the age expectancy has fallen by ten years since the collapse of the Iron Curtain - a consequence of market reforms. That alone would be enough to put anybody off the new policies of cutback and austerity which have characterised the last five years. Perhaps the only surprising thing is that the 'democratic' parties lasted so long with that kind of record of achievement. But if the Russian people expect the former communists to be any gentler with reforms they will be disappointed.

Most commentators have been surprised at the way that the anti-communist dissidents have been swept from power in Eastern Europe and the Confederation of Independent States. But it has become clear that poets and electricians cannot run governments. Dissidents like Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia, Lech Walesa in Poland and Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Russia proved to be useful figures to rally opposition to the old order, but no good at implementing market reforms. The re-election of the old communists is a vote for people who have the experience and connections to run the country and has little to do with any substantial political difference, still less is it a return to 1917.

David Nolan
Join a discussion on this commentary



Mail: webmaster@mail.informinc.co.uk