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


84 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • avatar
      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”. :-)

    • avatar
      Christos Saroglou

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

    • avatar
      Karolina

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

    • avatar
      George Guydosh

      Of themselves and their neighbours?! Who knows

    • avatar
      Paulius Paždagis

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

    • avatar
      Giorgos Rozos

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

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

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

    • avatar
      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. avatar
    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 )

    • avatar
      Stas

      You are wrong, the mentality of the third rome didn’t exist in Muskovy Dutchy. The idea of the third rome begun with the russian empire.

  2. avatar
    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. avatar
    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. avatar
    Peter Ayolov

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

  5. avatar
    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. avatar
    Ibrahim Uzun

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

  7. avatar
    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. avatar
    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. avatar
    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. avatar
    jthk

    Putin has to thank the America.

  11. avatar
    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. avatar
    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. avatar
    Karolina

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

    • avatar
      Diaconu

      good good , uk will be out of it soon , and you will be able to live outside of eu , without any worries!!

    • avatar
      Rémi

      And EU with less money!

    • avatar
      Rémi

      Russia is part of Europe, on two continents! So it’s Europe, this page isn’t called Debating EU!

    • avatar
      Hr Tom

      you ever been to russia?

    • avatar
      Rémi

      What does it change? I’ve opened a dictionnary!

    • avatar
      Hr Tom

      then you would know that russia isnt like europe… you might finde some western simularitys in sct petersburg, but the rest of russia is very diffrent from europe

  14. avatar
    Ariste

    Russia belongs in the European Union and should lead, instead of Germany that has destroyed Europe, the European Union, and each nation-state and has imported DANGEROUS TERRORISTS to slaughter the Christians herein.

    • avatar
      Rémi

      Not sure Uncle Sam will be agree, but funny!

    • avatar
      Rokas

      Well, you are obviously insane.

  15. avatar
    Franco

    This is a typical magician’s trick, to misdirects, to complete the illusion. Hate, xenophobic and war mongering is not a substitute for Debating Europe. In Europe, we are fed up with monarchies, because these do not conform to democratic principles and drain our resources, yet we remain silent on this issue. In Europe, we participate in Crimes Against Humanity against Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and other, where NATO forces are committing atrocities with Narco AmeriKKKan forces. This tyrannical, barbaric nation, notorious for its crimes against humanity represents a real and present danger to the survival of the planet, not just Europe, yet we remain silent vassals to their empire. Russia is Europe, Narco AmeriKKKa and Great Britshit are NOT. Their interests have always been to have a dysfunctional Europe, which is contrary to our self preservation, as neighboring countries in the EU or its perimeter.

    • avatar
      Franco

      Rokas Keturakis Really? Am I insulting you without making an argument? Do you want a King or Queen in your country? Do you want your military to fight for Narco AmeriKKKan corporations, as par of NATO? If Russia is not part of the EU why do you want to entertain an Anti-Russian campaigning, which is detrimental to the lives of Lithuania? Now, who is the troll?

  16. avatar
    Lucian

    rusi nu s-au saturat de putinism.este cel mai patriot si popular presedinte. cred ca europeni s-au saturat de NATO si UE in care sunt tinuti fortati de niste politicieni care refuza sa faca referendumuri nationale pt. iesirea sau ramanarea in aceste organizatii.asta da democratie.

    Russians aren’t tired of putinism. He is the most patriotic and popular president. I believe that Europeans are tired of NATO and the EU in which they are being held by some politicians who refuse to make national referendums pt. Exit or ramanarea in these organizations. That’s a democracy.

  17. avatar
    Paulius

    You must take a live survey on local people there. Nothing seems legit in Russia. I don’t think their citizens are happy at all. People want prosperity and peace, while Putin gives none of that.

    • avatar
      Raúl

      I don’t like Putin, but most russians I talked with seem to be happy with him/think he is the best candidate.

  18. avatar
    Ludwig

    tired or not they have no other choice, like China North Korea and so on……

  19. avatar
    Ivan

    The ‘fact’ the Russian people are about to re-elect him would suggest NO, they are not getting tied of him lol

  20. avatar
    Joaquim

    All the dark manouvers of the US and his a lies didn’t work. Dam it six more years. I thing UK is going to have long winter without Russian gas

    • avatar
      Ivan

      Winter finished in 2 days and there are plenty of places to buy gas other than Russia. The only people going to have a long winter are the Russian people.

    • avatar
      Joaquim

      Lol it’s snowing there and the winter finish in two days. Good luck with the northern suppliers. UK only produces 42% most is for Scotland good luck in getting the rest.

    • avatar
      Joaquim

      Fake news where??? The facts are the UK produces only 42% of the gas that is spent. The rest of your coment is only your pride and ego. 😂

  21. avatar
    Stefano

    Mr. Orban protested the Eu sanctions against Russia and, 2 years ago about , Putin and Orban signed a nuclear deal , to expand Hungaris’ nuclear power plant in Pakistan.
    Let’s see that goes ! , all of this sudden , its a Eu joke.

  22. avatar
    Paul

    They are below normal education level like the turks, how can they get tird of him. He is a comedian. Uneducated comedian and dictator same as erdogan. People jear and see what he wants them to.

  23. avatar
    Marius

    Ceausescu from Romania was elected with 98.5% just before being executed. Best of luck!

  24. avatar
    Saul

    Putin is not expected to work for the welfare of other nation, he is working for the greatness of Russia and its Hegemonistic and Imperialistic ambitions.

  25. avatar
    Yannick

    I don’t know. I know Russians outside of Russia who are fond of Putin. Therefore my first impression is that despite WWII and the cold war and all, we still don’t have much clue about Russian mindset. But if Russians are happy with Putin, Americans with Trump, Turks with Erdogan, and Poland etc etc the list goes on, there may be an interesting – albeit sad – pattern at work here. Please let’s figure this out before it gets out of control.

  26. avatar
    Birchi

    I think Russia need to a new leader Which can improve the Economy of the Country.

  27. avatar
    jthk

    If the Russian people still opt to vote for Putin, which means patriotism overcomes corruption level. Besides, which Western democracy dare to say that it has no corruption?

  28. avatar
    jthk

    Who can still believe in election system when we see Trump is elected the American President and the most powerful people of the world?

  29. avatar
    Carl hill

    Putin is a dictator like maduro. N.Korea Cuba. He murders people against him. Russia will be a better country when free from putin.

  30. avatar
    deeznuts

    Im not sure about other Russians but I know many people who are tired of the corruption and injustice putin has brought to Russia. im not gonna even gonna start on the politic assassination.

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