March 01, 2012

Russian Idol



As I write, it is one month prior to the March 4 presidential election, and few doubt that Vladimir Putin will be elected to an unprecedented third presidential term. The only open question is whether he will be elected in the first or the second round of voting, an absolute majority of votes being required.

In the middle of February, a VTsIOM poll showed Putin’s support climbing, to 53 percent of the electorate. Given margins of error and nearly 10 percent of Russians already saying they would not vote, a first round win seemed a bit uncertain, barring massive voter fraud, of course. [No worries: Russian Life History Editor Tamara Eidelman is serving as an election observer. She’s blogging about it at russianlife.com/blog]

When Putin first stood for election in 2000, he did so against over a dozen candidates. He won with just 52.94 percent of the tally. Or, rounding up, 53 percent. From this, one would be inclined to conclude that a bare majority of Russians will vote for any candidate (“even a tree stump” one Russian friend joked) who promises stability and continuation of the status quo, no matter if he has been hand-selected by his predecessor (2000) or by himself (2012).


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