MOSCOW The main political project of Russian President Vladimir Putin of the year, a constitutional vote that would allow him to extend his rule until 2036, will end on Wednesday.
The nationwide vote on the changes that would restore the clock to Putin’s term and allow him to suffer two more six-year terms is entering its final day. For the first time in Russia, surveys were open for a week to help reduce crowds and strengthen participation between coronavirus pandemics.
Putin is guaranteed to get the result he wants after a massive campaign to get Russian voters to say yes to change. Ironically, however, the plebiscite that aimed to consolidate his hold on power could end up disrupting his position because of the unconventional methods used to increase turnout and the dubious legal basis for voting.
Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst and former political adviser to the Kremlin, said Putin’s unwavering push to keep the vote high despite the high levels of coronavirus infection reflecting the potential weaknesses of Russian leaders.
Putin lacks confidence in his inner circle and is hesitant about the future, Pavlovsky said. He wants irrefutable proof of public support.
The vote ends in a secret saga of concealment, deception and surprise that began in January when Putin first proposed constitutional changes to a nation-state address. He offered to expand the powers of parliament and redistribute authority among branches of the Russian government, sparking speculation that he may continue to call the shootings as parliamentary speaker or as chairman of the State Council when his 2024 presidential term ends.
The changes, which also highlight the superiority of Russian law over international norms, link same-sex marriages and cite a belief in God as an essential value, quickly floated to the Kremlin-controlled parliament.
As speculation flooded into Putin’s future, the 67-year-old leader remained the face of poker until March 10. This is when the legislature Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet-era cosmonaut who was the first woman in space in 1963, suddenly proposed a measure to let Putin run twice more. In a carefully choreographed show, Putin then arrived in parliament shortly before the decisive vote to approve Tereshkova’s proposal.
The maneuver shocked Russian political elites who were busy daring for the next Putin and possible descendants. Many saw the resettlement of deadlines as an attempt by Putin to avoid making a lame duck and extinguish a power struggle in his inner circle.
The Russian president, who has been in power for more than two decades longer than any other Kremlin leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin said he would decide later if he would run again in 2024. He argued that the restoration of the term counting was necessary to keep his lieutenants from avoiding their eyes in search of possible offspring instead of a normal, rhythmic job.
While Putin used his KGB deception skills to deceive both the public and his entourage, he complicated his constitutional plan by giving it to voters even though parliamentary approval was enough to make it law.
The measure was intended to show his broad support and add a democratic veil to constitutional change. But that came back a few weeks later when coronavirus pandemic swept through Russia, forcing Putin to postpone the originally planned plebiscite for April 22nd.
The delay prompted the Putin campaign to lose momentum and left its constitutional reform plan hanging as damage from the mounted virus and public discontent increased. Declining revenues and rising unemployment during the Russia bombing have boosted his approval ratings, which drowned to 59% during the Russia bombing, the lowest level since his rise to power, according to Levada Center, Russia’s main Russias. independent.
Amid uncertainty, Putin re-elected immediately after seeing the first signs of a slowdown in Russias infection, although the number of new confirmed cases reported each day remains high.
Moscow-based political analyst Ekaterina Schulmann said the Kremlin faced a difficult dilemma. Holding the vote would soon bring charges of endangering public health for political purposes, while its delay further raised the risk of loss, she said.
A late vote could have been lost. Keeping it in the fall would have been very dangerous, Schulmann said.
She noted that the vote comes shortly after governments lifted coronavirus restrictions to help public mood shine.
Schulmann argued that the Kremlin’s focus is not so much on strengthening overall participation, but rather on increasing participation by public sector employees who make up Putin’s base.
Authorities have made a comprehensive effort to persuade teachers, doctors, workers in public sector enterprises and others paid by the state to cast their ballots. Reports appear from many corners of the country that managers were forcing people to vote.
The Kremlin has also used other tactics to increase participation and support for change.
Prints starting with gift certificates for cars and apartments were offered as an encouragement, giant signs were pasted in Russia, and celebrities posted advertisements for voting on social media.
Two regions with a large number of voters Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod allowed electronic voting.
At the same time, voter monitoring became more challenging due to hygiene requirements and more bizarre rules for election observers. Kremlin critics have argued that these would increase the chances of vote fraud.
Russia weakened and opposed the split in two camps over the changes: those calling for a boycott of the vote, as the Kremlin’s most visible enemy, Alexei Navalny, and those defending the vote against the constitutional changes.
Most observers expect the Kremlin to go its own way, despite opposition strategies.
People are angry with the government, but they still have no alternative to Putin, Pavlovsky said.
However, he noted that the unusual methods used by the authorities to increase turnout and get the result Putin wants will damage the legitimacy of the vote.
The procedure has been distorted and simplified to the point where it would be difficult to believe the figures, Pavlovsky said.
Schulmann also warned that the vote is unlikely to serve its intended purpose of cementing Putin’s rule as economic pain deepens from coronavirus.
I think the vote will not be perceived as legitimate, she said.
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