News / Europe

If Elected Russian President, Putin Faces Tough Choices

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with supporters, members of the All-Russia People's Front party, and political scientists, in Moscow, February 29, 2012.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with supporters, members of the All-Russia People's Front party, and political scientists, in Moscow, February 29, 2012.

Russians go to the polls Sunday to elect a new president. There's much at stake for the former president, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.  

There are five candidates for the Russian presidency, including Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and billionaire businessman Sergei Prokhorov. But the man who is expected to win the election is Putin.

Last September, he announced he would run for president in the March 4 elections, replacing Dmitri Medvedev, who is expected to become prime minister in a new government.

Protests sparked by fraud charges

The presidential balloting comes several months after Russians went to the polls to elect a new parliament. But there were allegations of widespread fraud during those December elections, sparking huge demonstrations in major Russian cities.

Analysts such as Robert Legvold say the protests have evolved into a direct attack on Putin’s authority.

“It certainly seems to represent many different segments of the population that are simply fed up. The slogan that characterizes everything since the September decision, when Putin simply announced that he was going to be the presidential candidate and almost certainly the elected president, the word, the slogan has been ‘enough’ - ‘We have had enough.’ Or as the Russians would say, ‘We have had it up to our eyeballs,’” said Legvold.

Possibility of second round of voting

Russian electoral law says if no presidential candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes, a second round is needed.

Sergei Glebov is a Russia expert at Smith College [in Massachusetts].

“There seems to be little doubt right now that Putin will gather more than half of the votes and will win in the first round - although it really will depend on the degree of mobilization of anti-Putin forces. A second round is certainly a distinct possibility,” said Glebov.

Legvold said either outcome will pose problems for Putin.

“If, on the one hand, he wins in the first round, does not have to go to a second round, then among the large segment of the public that already voted in December and have been out in the streets, they are going to see this as a manipulated election and it is going to reinforce the negative impressions that they had in December and acted on," said Glebov. "On the other hand, if it is forced to a second round, he has got a negative vote on his leadership, even if he carries the second round. And he will know that he goes into this next term weakened from anything that he has experienced before.”

Dealing from a weakened position

Glebov agrees.

“What I think is going to be staggeringly different about this election, is that even if Putin wins, he will be a different kind of president. He certainly can no longer claim the same degree of legitimacy, of popular support as he claimed, say, in 2004,” said Glebov.

That year Putin was re-elected in a landslide for a second term as president, receiving 71 percent of the votes cast. His approval rating now is roughly in the mid-40s.

Legvold said if elected president, Putin will have to address the anti-government demonstrations.

He will have to, fairly early on, decide how he will deal with that. Is he going to try to strong-arm it or is he going to begin yielding to it and make some changes that may in fact generate a rejuvenation of broader support for him within the public? That is a question I can not answer. I am not sure he could answer that today, but I certainly can not answer it. I do not know where he will go,” said Glebov.

Many experts say it will be interesting to see in the weeks and months ahead if the anti-Putin protests continue to spread - and if they present a clear challenge to the new Putin presidency.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid