Posts Tagged ‘Russia’
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).
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?
has created a website called Election 2012. On it she looks at members of the Russian Government, their ties to one another, their ties to big business/oligarchs, their past associations with the business community, etc. It’s all very interesting, and I am hoping that it will aid my own research, and serve to make this blog better.