Although Putin is strongly favored, the outcome is still uncertain for Russia’s upcoming presidential vote, as support ebbs for the former president on concerns of fraud in last year’s parliamentary elections and as voters tire of more than a decade of Putin’s dominance of national politics. To punish him, Russians could rally behind an opposition candidate as a protest vote, as they did in their strong support of the collective opposition in last December’s Duma elections. Those elections gave Putin’s United Russia Party only a slim majority of 53 percent of seats, down markedly from 70 percent of seats in 2007.

Speaking at The Wilson Center on January 30, Henry Hale, a professor in the Elliot School, discussed the upcoming presidential elections, slated for early March. In his analysis, Hale traced the rise of the current strong presidentialist system to the Yeltsin administration and the late Soviet era. He also stressed that United Russia is weaker today partly because of changes the party made in its appointment of provincial governors during the Putin and Medvedev administrations. Those changes preferred weaker gubernatorial candidates who lacked the acumen to construct regional political machines, yet who were equally incapable of delivering votes when the party needed them.

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  • Henry Hale

    Title VIII-Supported Research Scholar, Kennan Institute