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Putin grows stronger every passing day


SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | Moscow, February 29, 2012 20:34
Tags : Moscow elections 2012 | Vladimir Putin | Russian Prime Minister | United Russia Party | |

The mood in Moscow remains lively even as the city shivers under sub-zero temperature. After all, it is not every day that you get to elect your president. This election has become livelier also because there is a whiff of genuine opposition in the air. Russians would vote on Sunday to elect the President.

For the first time in years there appears to be some cohesion in the opposition movement that appears to primarily target Vladimir Putin. But nothing more than that. Footages of twenty-thirty thousand odd people gathering in the city centre looks good on TV. It also gives discredited democracies semblance of legitimacy. But in case of Russia, will this be able to pose a serious challenge to Putin’s aspirations.Not really.

The picture from Moscow is not very impressive.The opposition movement got widespread footage and space in the international media. Western press gave special prominence because of the obvious reasons. But it also led to a false assessment of opposition’s capabilities and powers.

Subsequent opinion polls since Duma elections, where Putin’s United Russia Party under incumbent Medvedev did not do as well as it was expected of it, confirms that the popularity of Putin is rising every passing week. Analysts here in Russia were never in two minds about who the most popular leader in the country is, however, due to a strong show by the opposition it was touted that the election will see a photo-finish.

At least it will compel Putin to go for a run-off after failing to secure a clear cut victory. However, the numbers does not seem to add up. After hovering dangerously around 50 percent for close to a month, the popularity of Putin has seen a persistent surge. Different opinion polls are giving Putin a cushion between 50-56 percent of the popular votes. If he manages to secure that then there will be no need for a run-off.

There can be various reasons for this surge. The foremost is that voters saw Duma election as a mandate to what Medvedev has achieved. As much as the western press like to believe, the voters are making clear distinction between Medvedev and Putin. At least a considerable chunk of voters don’t want to punish Putin for what Medvedev did or not do during his tenure.

Second, in a personality oriented fight like this, the personal charisma and other traits come into play. Needless to say, Putin scores on those counts as well. Third, a chunk of Putin voters who did not come out to vote in the Duma elections because of complacency stemmed out of over-confidence will leave no stone unturned considering the stakes have been raised now.

Also, the insistence of the opposition movement to target Putin has not borne fruit. In absence of a cohesive Putin-after policy, it is increasingly becoming hard for the opposition to come up with an alternative governance option.The cumulative effect is for all to see.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017