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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More