Churov & Election 2012
The head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission Vladimir Churov came out to talk to Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) on Thursday. He once again defended his role as Commissioner by claiming very little fraud occurred in the December Duma elections.
Churov also repeated his claim that they are preparing to install transparent ballot boxes in 30,000 polling stations across Russia for the March Presidential Elections. This is only about 1/3 of all polling stations. The Commission is also working on setting up webcams in “nearly all polling stations”, though Churov gave no indication of what “nearly all” actually equals to as a concrete number.
While Ekho Moskvy, and its audience, got nothing really new from the interview, it was interesting to witness the effort that the Kremlin is making to explain themselves. Ekho Moskvy appeals to a very specific audience, the educated, liberal, middle class. Many of its listeners are the same people who attended the mass meetings on Bolotnaya, and Sakharova in December.
But what does Churov’s interview mean for the coming Presidential election? I am still not convinced that the Kremlin has decided on a strategy, but I have some ideas.
According to the most recent poll from VTsIOM, if the election had been held on 25 December 2011, Vladimir Putin would have gotten 45% of the vote. Even though Putin’s next closest rival, Communist Party Leader Gennady Zyuganov, received only 10% of the vote, Putin would still be 6 percentage points under the required amount to prevent a run-off.
At this point, Putin, and his campaign team, have a few options. They can stick with their current strategy, campaign mildly, and get the approximate amount the VTsIOM poll shows (give or take a couple points). They would then be forced into a run-off with Zyuganov, where Putin would probably win in a landslide.
Another option would be to take a small win in the first round. This would be something over 51%, but under 60%. However, this is risky because of the amount of perceived fraud that took place in the Parliamentary elections last month. A small win could be within an arguable margin of error, and lead to more protests.
The last option would be to take a large win in the first round (say 65%, for a round number). This is also a risk because the larger win could be indicative of massive fraud, and could also force more protests.
As far as I can tell, these are the choices that are open. Do you have other ideas? What would you choose?