Sunday, January 27, 2019

Decline in Putin’s Ratings Matters Far Less than Fall in Support for United Russia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 25 – The decline in support for Vladimir Putin has attracted far more attention than the sharper fall in backing for the pro-Kremlin United Russia, but that is a mistake, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say, because few Russians think they’ll be voting for Putin soon if at all while all know there’ll be elections in which they can vote against United Russia.

            And that in turn means, the editors say, the Kremlin needs to decide how or if it wants to save United Russia, whose “victories” many will assume were possible only by the application of administrative measures or whose losses will confront the center with problems in 2019 and even more in the Duma vote in 2021 (

                It should be obvious to everyone, the lead article continues, that it doesn’t make any difference whether a governor is from the United Russia Party or from one of the three other systemic parties, the KPRF, the LDPR or Just Russia.  Anyone elected as a candidate of the latter quickly becomes part of the system. 

                That means at least two things. On the one hand, the Kremlin can pick and choose whom to support on the basis of who is likely to win, confident that it can control the behavior of the individual chosen.  And on the other, the center can leave the issue of regional or local parliamentary elections to local party cells rather than trying to control everything.

            Most of the problems in the regions arise not because of the Kremlin’s actions but because “of the domination in the federal subjects or one or another groups who do not want to give up their monopoly on power.” Thus, it is not to be excluded that Moscow’s introduction of outsiders is “an attempt to change that situation.”

            The Kremlin will achieve far more, the editors suggest, if it chooses its fights carefully rather than assumes that it has to ensure United Russia wins in every case.  Indeed, tying itself too closely to a party that has become the target of anger among opposition groups and the population is an almost certain way to lose.

            The mayoral and gubernatorial elections this year won’t matter that much, Nezavisimaya gazeta suggests, but they will set the stage for the vastly more important Duma contests in 2021, an election that the Kremlin will have little choice but to listen to unless it intends to dispense with voting altogether, a high risk strategy few now think possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment