Congratulations, President Putin, on six more glorious years! What’s that you say? The vote hasn’t happened yet? A mere formality! On 18 March 2018, Russians will march to the polls and re-elect their beloved leader in a landslide. The Kremlin is apparently adopting a 70-70 strategy, hoping to see Putin coast to victory with 70% of the vote on a 70% turnout.

Are we being too cynical? It’s undeniable that the media landscape is heavily skewed in Vladimir Putin’s favour, and that his political opponents tend to end up arrested or dead. In fact, Putin himself seems embarrassed by how unbalanced the Russian political environment is, and has pledged to make it more competitive. Yet, by all accounts, President Putin is massively popular amongst ordinary Russians, and he has restored a sense of national pride after the chaos of the Yeltsin years.

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Nikolai arguing that “We can dispute the margin of victory” but Putin will always win more votes than any other candidate. Is he right? If Russia’s political system were different, would Putin still be guaranteed a victory?

To get a response, we spoke to Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent. What would he say?

For another perspective, we put the same comment to Anatol Lieven, Professor of International Politics at Georgetown University in Qatar, and previously a journalist covering Russia and the Soviet Union. Would Putin win under any system?

Well, it’s not possible to say that Putin would win under any system, because obviously we don’t know in a different system who would be standing against him. I think what is possible to say is that faced with the existing range of alternatives, Putin would win even under a free and fair election, which I do not think this is going to be.

In other words, the rigging that will take place will be to give Putin a more convincing victory rather than a relatively narrow one. But, yes, I would expect Putin to win even if there were no rigging, just by a lower margin.

We had a comment from Peter, arguing that ordinary Russians are feeling a growing sense of “exhaustion and disillusionment” with the current system. Is he right? Are Russians growing tired of Putinism? What would Professor Richard Sakwa say in response?

Finally, how would Professor Anatol Lieven respond to the same comment?

Well, I think that many Russians are definitely very tired of the corruption of the Putin system. Not that in this regard the Putin system is worse than the Yeltsin system that went before it, but every opinion poll shows corruption – along with economic hardship – as the biggest source of discontent with government in Russia today.

On the other hand, Russians have, according to opinion polls, definitely approved of Putin’s majority, have definitely approved of Putin’s foreign and security policy, and have generally, on balance, approved of domestic economic policy. So, I think corruption is the biggest source of anger with the Putin system.

Are Russians getting tired of Putinism? Or is President Vladimir Putin legitimately popular with ordinary Russians? Enough to win even genuinely free and fair elections? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – goncharovaia


44 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • Pasha Se

      Important correction. After 1991 there were no free elections in Russia and after 2000 there were no elections in Russia. So the correct phrase is “Putin will rule till he dies”. :-)

    • Christos Saroglou

      Pasha Se Putin will never die, he’s a highlander.😃

    • Karolina

      When he dies he will be frozen and be eventually defrosted and brought back to life!

    • George Guydosh

      Of themselves and their neighbours?! Who knows

    • Paulius Paždagis

      So EU became a corrupt shithole where human rights and decent quality of life is utopia, just like in Russia?

    • Giorgos Rozos

      Paulius Paždagis this is what EU is today, unless ofcourse you are an illegal immigrant or a gay

    • Ivan Burrows

      Paulius Paždagis The EU already is, you just don’t see it yet. But you will.

    • randomguy2017

      Same. Hes better than Merkel, Macron, May.
      Obviously hes currupt, but superior to those three.
      Putin cares somewhat about his people, tradition, raising birth rates,
      while EU is about LBGT worshipping and mass immigration while bending over to Soros, and Americans.

      Why does the EU have so many childless leaders? No wonder they bring in foreigners as their “children”.

  1. Konrad Kowalski

    It is easy to understand the State of Moscow (the Russian Federation had various names in its history, so I use the oldest name).

    In the Moscow State there was a conviction (and there is a conviction) that Moscow is the last stronghold of the Orthodox faith, the only true Christian faith. It did the ruler in the eyes of the subjects of a powerful and divine leader.
    The Orthodox religion is characterized by the interpenetration of the attributes of secular and religious power in the person of the leader, in effect the tsar was responsible both for the state and the salvation of the subjects (the so-called diarchy).

    Similarly, but not so much a phenomenon occurred in the person of the German Emperor in the Middle Ages.

    That’s why mentality is close.

    Photograph: state emblems of the “three black eagles” pact ( I can not attach photos, unfortunately )

  2. Hugo Miguel Carriço

    I think Russian people are tired of us, everythime europe is trying to undermine Russian relations with of the rest of the world.

  3. Svetoslav Todorov

    Simply put – not enough people care about their rights and freedoms in Russia. They don’t care about the corruption very much either, mainly because they are also guilty of it. The corruption is deeply rooted in Russian society ever since the time of the czars. They will reelect him just because they care more about stability and being proud. They care more about appearing strong, than actually improving something. And do remember that the pensioners represent a significant part of his electorate.

  4. Peter Ayolov

    This is no Europen matter. Please concentrate on our inner EU problems. Europe uber alles.

  5. Eggsy Polanco

    Hahaha, if you are asking this question you have no idea about Rusia. They even have calendars with Putin face every month before elections because they know he will continue and pore than 90% of population are happy with him

  6. Ibrahim Uzun

    If you want to save Eu from catastrophe the president for Eu must be Erdogan and Putin his Vice President .

  7. Maia Alexandrova

    “Would Putin still be guaranteed victory under a different political system?” What system? The Saudi Arabian dictatorship that EU countries support and trade with? Or the Israeli dictatorship over Palestinian people who have no voice and no right to decide their own fate? Leave Russians alone to choose whoever they want for their President! As for election rigging – this is why there are international monitors – to observe the process and sound the alarm, if anything is not right. EU representatives can go and see for themselves how the elections are conducted.

  8. Vassiliki Xifteri

    Why would this matter be of interest in an E.U. whose members do not prosper? Do all people, all European citizens prosper? Unless, we achieve this which was why E.U. was formed in the first place, it would be wiser not to take an interest in our neighbour.

  9. catherine benning

    Are Russians getting tired of Vladimir Putin?

    According to research Russians appear to be happy with him. Far happier than say, Merkel is with her voters. And certainly people in my country are fed up with May. She is very unpopular indeed. Too slow and for the British public, too ready to give tax payers money away to European dictators in order to break us free from the EU. They are calling for a change of PM to Rees-Mogg, a proper Englishman and Brexiteer. Fake leaders have become a severe irritant.

    Of course there is enormous pretence that remainer’s are the real majority. But, that is Globalist propaganda. Just as it was re-the Clinton farce. Leave sentiment is in fact growing dramatically. Especially after Macron visited. He was a little honest about the feelings of the French people. They, he believes, are verging on a Frexit as we write.

    I like the French people. They remain socially centred. They don’t stand for shit the way we British too often do with our politicians.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/28/putin-what-russians-think

    And

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/12/putin-generation-russia-soviet-union/

    And, it appears the American citizens are also preferring their President, no matter the bent media constantly damning him. The mantra of the Global cabal is, blame the Russians.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/05/republican-trump-supporters-survey-american-values-rule-breaker

  10. jthk

    Putin has to thank the America.

  11. Zé Miranda

    Worry about EU and leave the others alone. German = the longest reigning dictatorship in the Western World. If you think otherwise, may I ask you for how many terms have Merkel been in power?

  12. Evelina Shamarova

    At the moment, Russia does not have a better leader. If someone else, even with very democratic views, is elected, Russia would just get worse.

  13. Karolina

    I’ve only come to this debate to see what the Kremlin agents have to say! Their opinion is the most reliable one!

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