Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let's wait and see about this

Putin seemed to be spontaneous about his hopes for changes to the regime and the government. Was he just playing to a critical audience? Will anyone in Russia outside of the equestrian club hear this?

Putin: we have lost Russia's trust
Russia's prime minister, Vladimir Putin, admitted that his government had lost of the trust of its people and pledged to introduce what he called "direct democracy" to refresh it, when he is returned for a third presidential term next March.

Challenged during a meeting with foreign academics and journalists to admit that power in Russia was too centralised, that 80% of President Dmitry Medvedev's decrees were ignored or not fully implemented by the regions, and that no one trusted the power structure he had created, Putin astonished everyone by agreeing. He said: "I tell you, I agree. I don't object to anything you have said."

He said when he first became president 11 years ago the country was in so much chaos it was on the verge of civil war. He established a system of "manual control" over the regions, abolishing elections and appointing governors himself.

… Putin said it was time to devolve certain powers and taxation back to the regions: "I have every intention to do that, but we have to act carefully. We have certain ideas about how to expand direct democracy, but it would be premature to announce them now. The British say it took 400 years for a lawn to be made, but we have not got that time."

Putin was speaking after a survey conducted by the Kremlin about the unpopularity of regional governors was leaked to Gazeta.ru. It showed that a large number of governors, many of whom were heading Putin's United Russia party's regional lists – had poll ratings below 20%…

While this is not expected to change the fact that United Russia will get the majority in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in December - because United Russia is a party of bureaucrats and is infamous for strongarming teachers, students and millions of public sector workers to vote for them - it is a clear indication to Mr Putin that he has to act…

Putin scorned criticism that March's presidential election would be a fix after his decision to swap places with Medvedev. He said Gordon Brown had taken over from Tony Blair without any election and no one had said that had deprived the British people of a vote.

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