A new leftist umbrella movement was formed on the initiative of the CPRF on August 7, 1996. It was called People's Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR) and consisted of more than 30 leftist and "patriotic" organizations. Gennady Zyuganov was its chairman. He was supported by the party as a candidate for Russia's presidency during the 1996 Presidential elections and 2000 Presidential elections.
CPRF's former members include many popular politicians, who seceded after their ambitions on party leading collided with Zyuganov's, who held the stronger support. Gennady Seleznev in 2001, Sergey Glazyev in 2003 and Gennady Semigin in 2004 were the most notable "dissenters".
A minority faction criticised the decision to candidate "millionaires" (such as Sergei Sobko, general director and owner of the TEKHOS company) in the CPRF's lists, which was seen as a contradiction to the Marxist-Leninist and anti-oligarchic policies of the Party.
In July 2004 a breakaway faction elected Vladimir Tikhonov as its leader. The faction later formed the All-Russia Communist Party of the Future. The operation wasn't successful and recently Tikhonov's party has suspended active operations, seeking rapprochement with Zyuganov's side.
In parliament, after an initial slow start with just 12.4% of vote in the first 1993 parliamentary elections, it grew to 22% in the 1995 parliamentary elections, making it by far the biggest Russian party, raised after that, to 24% in the 1999 elections and then declined dramatically by losing almost half of its votes to 13% in the 2003 parliamentary elections, resulting in 51 out of 450 seats. In the 2007 Russian parliamentary elections the party won 11.6% of the vote, a slight decrease in percentage points, although the election resulted in an increase in the number of votes obtained by the party (more than 8 million votes) and in the number of seats held by the party. The CPRF enjoyed highest support in Tambov Oblast (19.17%), Oryol Oblast (17.58%) and Bryansk Oblast (17.09%). As of 2008 the Communist Party continues to be the second largest party in Russia, as well as the largest opposition party.
In all presidential elections since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Communist candidate came second. In the 1996 elections, candidate Gennady Zyuganov rose to 32% of the votes, just short of Yeltsin's 35%. In the 2000 elections, Zyuganov was the communist candidate, and dropped slightly to 29%, but Vladimir Putin won a landslide victory with 53%. In the presidential election held on 14 March 2004, Putin's support rose to 71% and the Communist Party's candidate, Nikolay Kharitonov, won only 14%. Taking into consideration the fact that Kharitonov (a leading member of the Agrarian Party of Russia) was considered to be a "token" candidate, this was a better result than expected, showing that the CPRF still has a substantial base of support. In the 2008 presidential election, CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov ran again for President, placing second with a surprising 17.8% (13,243,550 votes). Zyuganov even managed to beat United Russia's candidate Dimitry Medvedev in some small villages and towns. After the election, Zyuganov said that his supporters had uncovered numerous violations and that he should have gotten at least 30% of the vote and he added that he would challenge the results in court. Some weeks later, Russia's Central Election Commission admitted that most of the complaints by the CPRF regarding violations during the election were well grounded and justified, but wouldn't have changed the outcome of the vote.
In the Moscow Duma election held on 4 December 2005, the Party won 16.75 % and 4 seats. This was the best ever result for the CPRF in Moscow. In some observers opinion, the absence of the Rodina party contributed to the Communists' success.
On March 11, 2007, elections took place for 14 regional and local legislatures. The CPRF performed very well and increased its votes in most of the territories; it came second in Oryol Oblast (23.78%), Omsk Oblast (22.58%), Pskov Oblast (19.21%) and Samara Oblast (18.87%), Moscow Oblast (18.80%), Murmansk Oblast (17.51%) and Tomsk Oblast (13.37%). These results testify that the CPRF is the most significant opposition party in Russia.
On May 21, 2007, the CPRF obtained an important success in the Volgograd's mayoral election. Communist candidate Roman Grebennikov was elected as mayor with 32.47% of the vote. Grebennikov is the youngest mayor of a regional capital.
The Party's electorate is composed mainly by pensioners, industrial workers and peasants of the former Kolkhoz collective farms. The past few years have also seen a growth in its support of the leftist youth groups, such as the Vanguard of Red Youth. A representative of CPRF was present at "the Other Russia" conference of opposition parties in 2006.
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