Yesterday, Russians went to the polls to support their much-beloved president, Vladimir Putin in the presidential elections. While there was never much doubt on who would win the election, the main question was centred around the 70:70 target the Kremlin had set the incumbent president. The 70:70 goal clearly identifies the Kremlin’s aims:
- Turnout must be 70% or higher. This lends some legitimacy to the whole proceeding – both at home and abroad: “if this many people are turning out to vote, how could it be a sham?”
- Putin must win the popular support of 70% of the votes cast.
The majority of the results are in, and we at Politically Wasted can safely say that Putin has won by what media in the West have called “a landslide victory”.
|Vladimir Putin||United Russia||63,00|
|Gennady Zyuganov||Communist Party||17,18|
|Vladimir Zhirinovsky||Liberal Democratic Party||6,22|
|Sergey Mironov||A Just Russia||3,85|
|Vladimir Putin||United Russia (although technically independent)||76,67|
|Pavel Grudinin||Communist Party||11,79|
|Vladimir Zhirinovsky||Liberal Democratic Party||5,66|
|Ksenia Sobchak||Civic Initiative||1,67|
|Boris Titov||Party of Growth||0,76|
|Maxim Suraykin||Communists of Russia||0,68|
|Sergey Baburin||Russian All-People’s Union||0,65|
As we can see by comparing yesterday’s results with the previous election in 2012, both turnout and Putin’s share of the vote have increased. The increase in turnout, however, does not tip over the 70% mark. While this does not affect the overall outcome of the election (Putin is still president for another six years) it could lower the amount of political capital he has available to spend during the upcoming presidential term, as well as the weight his voice will have when getting behind any possible successor.
In the day-to-day running of the Russian government, however, being 2.5% under the turnout aim is not terrible. This is especially true when one considers the plea to voters from Putin’s main opponent, Alexei Navalny, after the disqualification of his candidacy. Navalny called for a boycott of the elections – seemingly to decrease the legitimacy Putin and the government would feel from missing the 70% turnout mark. Whatever the case, both sides can chalk up this turnout figure as a win: Navalny can claim that Russia is ready for change, while Putin can still point to an increased turnout, with an increased vote-share.
One further upset for Putin is in the form of the actual result. While the president did smash the 70% popular vote target, the target itself was far less than Putin was expected to collect. Pavel Grudinin – who was running under the banner of the Communist Party (which is not to be confused with the Communists of Russia party) – was predicted to get around 7% of the vote, but far exceeded expectations by garnering just under 12%. This means that nearly one in every eight votes was for Russia’s second-largest party’s candidate, and shows a polling discrepancy of 5% – a large margin of error anywhere.
Putin now has six years left at the head of the Russian Federation. It is hitherto unknown how – or even if – he will attempt to cling to power after then. Perhaps, taking a cue from China’s President Xi Jinping, Putin will attempt to amend Russia’s constitution to abolish term limits, the length of presidential terms, or perhaps something even more extreme…
Whether Putin has the political capital to pull off such a Machiavellian feat is yet to be seen, as it is heavily dependent on the security of his own position, as well as Russia’s stability. Look for further projections of power – particularly in light of the nerve agent debacle in Salisbury on March 4th – both real and perceived.