Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Election in 2024

If the 2018 election in Russia has already been decided, what about the one in 2024?

Training Early for Post-Putin Politics
Presidential elections are normally a major affair. The competition may be more or less open, the candidates more or less exciting, the outcome more or less uncertain, but electing a head of state usually captures a nation’s attention. These days in Moscow, though, with glitzy “2018” signs illuminating the city center, you would be forgiven for thinking that the soccer World Cup, hosted by Russia, is the event to watch this year…

Since [Putin's] approval ratings hover around 80 percent, that puts him on course to be in office until 2024. By then, he will have been in power for 24 years. No wonder he is running as an independent candidate this time: President Putin does not need a party to support him — he just needs to run as President Putin. His legitimacy stems from holding power since the day the millennium was born…

The idea of post-Putinism is emerging slowly as an object of political study…

An entire generation is looking forward to post-Putinism. Its members have not yet been allowed on stage, but they are definitely rehearsing.

Navalny
Their most visible actor is Alexei Navalny, the only candidate who has been running a real presidential campaign so far. Unsurprisingly, on Dec. 30 Russia’s Supreme Court barred him from taking part in the election, citing a fraud conviction that he says was based on trumped-up charges…

Since then, he has become the No. 1 opposition figure, which has harmed him — he is sometimes jailed briefly, frequently attacked, constantly harassed — but it also has protected him… For over a year, Mr. Navalny has been crisscrossing Russia to build a political organization, with a network of regional headquarters and tens of thousands of volunteers. The crowds at his rallies are not huge, but they are young and committed, making this operation look very much like a solid investment.

Sobchak
And there is a surprise entrant, who popped up in late October and announced her candidacy. Ksenia Sobchak, 36, is a household name in Russia: Her father, Anatoly Sobchak, was the first elected mayor of post-Soviet St. Petersburg. A reformist, he made Vladimir Putin his deputy… Inevitably, the big question in Moscow has become: Is she a Kremlin stooge?…

Beneath the surface, other actors are taking stock…

“People are tired of the regime, but they value stability,” Olga Mostinskaya, 36, a former Foreign Ministry translator, said. "Apathy has its limits. When nothing moves at the top, grass-roots activism may well be the best recipe to get ready for post-Putinism."

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