Russian Politics, & Personalities

Posts Tagged ‘Election 2012

Competing factions, competing ideas, competing numbers

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In my last post, I laid out the three options that Putin’s campaign had to win the presidential election on 4 March.  As we get down to the last month before the election it is important to see how things are progressing, and if any decisions have been made by Putin, and his campaign committee.  As I noted before, Vyacheslav Volodin is leading the campaign this time around.  There are, however, still competing ideas for a strategy to win.

On the one hand, there is a group that is advocating a second round win.  Remember, in this scenario, Putin gets between 45-50% of the vote. High enough to look good compared to Zyuganov’s second place 11%, but low enough that a second round is required.  Promoted by Stanislav Belkovsky, the group is arguing that a “clean” second round would lend legitimacy to Putin’s next administration.  While this is most likely true, and would be the smartest way to go, it does not appear that Volodin is willing to go this route.

Moskovsky Komsomolets is reporting that a message has been sent to the regions that certain results are expected.  This is what happened in the Duma elections last fall, where the governors were told that a certain threshold was required percentage-wise.  We all saw what has happened to those governors who failed to meet that standard: they were fired (e.g. Volgograd, Arkhangelsk, and Vologda).

Nevertheless, the numbers posted last week by FOM, & Levada make it seem like a second round is practically inevitable.  Levada conducted an “open survey”, and did not give the respondents a list to choose from.  Only 37% of those polled said that they would vote for Putin if the election were held on Sunday.  FOM questioned 3000 potential voters, and got a result of 45%.  Both of these numbers, if accurate, would automatically mean a second round of voting. However, VTsIOM came up with a much higher number of 52% for Putin.

While the statistics of these organisations have been called into question, the numbers themselves do not really matter. The way in which they are reported, however, do.  This campaign is all about perceptions.  Putin understands this important fact.  This is why we are not seeing him as much, and why he is meeting with small groups of university students, and judo pupils, rather than large groups (as seen in this video from Sky News).

As far as the articles that Putin has been publishing laying out his alleged agenda for his next term, I am not sure that they have much value as a campaign strategy.  They appear to be more valuable as a starting point for dialogue within society about such subjects.  This may be the best thing Putin will do for society this year.

Note: I would highly recommend viewing Amanda Walker’s Sky News piece (not only for the gem clip of Putin speaking English).

Written by Nina Jobe

January 29, 2012 at 8:23 PM

Ken Doll Putin

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I’ve given up imagining what VVP will think of for his next PR stunt.  In one sense, it is getting a little ridiculous.  But on the other hand… VVP exploring ancient caves AND diving for treasure (albeit in 2 meter deep water)!!!  How can it get better?  My doll “action figure” Putin keeps getting more outfits.  It’s like having a Ken doll (h/t Ani), but way cooler, right?

And then, SuperPutin Episode II came out last night.  I was literally on my floor laughing until I started to cry.

So things are looking up as the election season (finally) starts.  Substance may be lacking, but the PR stunts will definitely make up for some of that.

Written by Nina Jobe

August 10, 2011 at 8:25 PM

Levada Center

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has released their most recent poll for the March 2012 presidential election (in Russian).  Those being polled were asked, “If the election were held next Sunday, would you take part, and who would you vote for?”

As of now, Putin is leading in the polls with a paltry 23%.  That is only 1 percentage point ahead of “I don’t know who I will vote for”.  Medvedev is 5 percentage points behind Putin with 18%.  12% say they would not participate at all.  11% don’t know if they would vote.  Zyuganov gets 6%, and Zhirinovksy gets 5%.

Basically, apathy is killing Russia, and this election specifically.

And speaking of apathy, has anyone seen Gennady Zyuganov recently?  The man looks seriously worn out, and kind of over it, despite the rhetoric he puts forward in article I linked to.  It makes me kind of sad.  He needs to give up the mantle to someone younger, I think, but he’s kind of in the same place as VVP.  He can’t.  There is no one else (in their minds, anyway).

Written by Nina Jobe

July 3, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Stanislav Belkovsky

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is one of the people within the Russian political system who fascinate me.  I think that most of the time he just makes stuff up, and I don’t have a ton of respect for him. But he is considered an “expert” and an “insider”, so what he says does need to be taken into consideration.   Here is a recent interview with Stanislav on Medvedev’s Gazeta article, and the response it got from the blogosphere.  Specifically, Maxim Kalashnikov’s suggestions.  The translation is rather horrid, and I cannot find the interview in Russian, but I have picked out a few things that I thought were important (editing is my own).

[Then], the president is just trying to win the sympathy of the people?

I can recall that shortly after [his] election to the presidency, Vladimir Putin met with the chief editor of “Tomorrow” by Alexander Prokhanov and chief editor of the newspaper “Soviet Russia” Valentin Chikin in the Kremlin. Although these meetings were completely devoid of content, …that was enough to make for several years to nourish hopes on Putin. The same effect, only in miniature, and achieved through dialogue with Maxim Kalashnikov.

Apparently, there was some question of why Medvedev gave the letter to Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin rather than his own Chief of Staff, Sergei Naryshkin.  According to Belkovsky,

…do not overestimate the seriousness of this request. All this is, to some extent, [a] postmodern game, which is inherent in the political elite. Formally, Medvedev could do so because: firstly, the proposal Kalashnikov is [the] competence of the Government, not the Presidential Administration, and secondly, …Sergei Sobyanin… is Deputy Chairman of the Council for the Modernization of the President. Therefore, Medvedev had all the formal and bureaucratic reasons to refer these proposals to him. And the competition with Putin or neglect [of] Naryshkin in this case simply does not [play into it].

The final question is, naturally, about what will happen in 2012.

…I think that is a bit early to make predictions, [and] the connection with the election campaign would be far-fetched. While it is clear that the president with a term of office of four years must live permanently in the mode of election campaign. While it is clear that the election results in 2012 will depend not on the success of communication Medvedev with bloggers, [but] on the success of the state automated system of election administration, which does not let you down.

Belkovsky’s answer is a bit of a cop-out, I think, but he does make a good point here (that I, of course, agree with).  Medvedev’s blogging will have little to no impact on the election.  Just look at the numbers.  If 2/3 of Russia’s population lives in rural areas, only 1/3 (approximately) have access to the internet (and that is a liberal estimate).  Of those 1/3, how many actually use the internet?  Maybe half?  And of that 1/2 of 1/3, how many are interested enough to take the time to watch the President’s blogs, and read what he writes on-line? Half of that?  Plus, people just do not believe that they have enough power to effect change.

Written by Nina Jobe

September 19, 2009 at 10:49 AM

More On Gazeta

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article from Paul Goble, translating/summarising Alexei Makarin’s op-ed in “Yezhednevny zhurnal”.  Makarin makes a point that rather resonates with me because of my interest in the Power Vertical, and the Clan Wars.  In my view, there is a group within the Presidential Administration who are advocating a more forceful opposition to Putin & Co.  Members of this movement include Press Secretary Natalia Timakova, the President’s Economic Advisor Arkady Dvorkovich, Head of the President’s Control Directorate Chuychenko, among others.  I believe that members of this group worked together on the “Gazeta” article.

My concern is basically the same as Makarin’s.  That this could end up backfiring on said faction, and cause Medvedev’s early ouster.  This is probably the President’s fear as well, and why he takes German Gref’s MO of forward, then retreat.

In what appears to be Putin’s response to the Gazeta article, the PM said today that he may run for President in 2012, but that he and Medvedev will “decide together”.  I happen to believe that Putin will go the special election route, and that Medvedev will not be consulted at all, but I am a self-confessed conspiracy theorist, so there you go.