Staunton, December 28 – Vladimir Putin has been in office so long that he faces real constraints in designing a campaign for his next re-election, Sergey Shelin says. Talking too much about his plans will prompt questions about what he has and has not done; failure to say something in that regard will raise other questions about what he really plans for the future.
Putin’s solution, the Rosbalt commentator says, is almost certain to be a combination of much talk about glittering generalities like Russia’s rank in the world that most Russians don’t have a way of measuring in their daily lives whatever is occurring and silence about specific issues that they can see around them (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2017/12/26/1671430.html).
The Russian people are not ready to rise up in battle for Putin or anyone else. Its members are “tired of living in a besieged fortress, and [Putin] won’t want to remind them too often” that that is where is policies have left them and their country. “At the very least,” Shelin continues, he and those around him will try not to remind people of that.
That in turn means, he says, that Putin isn’t going to advertise the government’s increasing military spending. Rather, regardless of what he may be doing behind the scenes, the Kremlin leader is going to adopt a tone that will strike Russians as calm and considered and “even humane.” One could almost say “liberal” if that weren’t excluded by Russian realities.
Putin, Shelin argues, will avoid making specific proposals – that is for “novices,” he says – but instead will talk in generalities and indicate his willingness to consider and take under advisement even the most radical of ideas. Promises made in this way are cost free because no one will remember when they aren’t filled. More specific promises won’t be forgotten.
Consequently, when Putin in the campaign talks about transportation costs, housing or pensions, he will do so without offering any specific numbers. Doing otherwise will open the way for criticism by his opponents and for grumbling nor and/or in the future by the Russian population.
It is possible, of course, Shelin allows, that Putin will issue a program with a list of points, “even though the people aren’t asking for it.” But even if he does, everyone including Putin will forget it after March 18, and “everything will go on as it has.” Putin is right to think the first half of this equation. He almost certainly is wrong about the second.