The last presidential election in Russia took place on March 18, 2018. The incumbent President Putin has applied for his last term of office because the constitution only allows two terms in a row. Politicians who ran for candidates twenty years ago competed against him: the right-wing populist Vladimir Zhirinovsky (LDPR) and the liberal Grigori Jawlinski (Jabloko). The KPRF, the second largest parliamentary group in the State Duma, sent the new candidate Pawel Grudinin into the running.
Alexei Navalny, leader of the Progress Party, announced his candidacy for the 2018 presidential election in December 2016. In the mayoral election in Moscow in September 2013, he received 27% of the vote and has been the leader of the anti-Putin opposition ever since. Navalny organized nationwide demonstrations against the government and corruption in March and June 2017. It was the biggest protests in years. In total, almost 2,000 people were arrested, most of them in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Navalny was arrested for the action and then sentenced. He had created a large network of regional campaign offices and organized numerous public gatherings across the country. The electoral commission had rejected his candidacy for the presidential election because he had had a five-year suspended sentence for embezzlement. A complaint against this decision was rejected.
On October 18, 2017, the 35-year-old liberal journalist and TV presenter Xenija Sobchak opened a campaign as a candidate for the 2018 presidential election. She said she wanted to be a candidate for citizens who wanted to show their position, ” but not their candidate for the elections admitted “.
The surveys of the Levada Center showed that the opposition, the dominance of the power holder could not seriously threaten 60 percent of those who intend to go to the polls, would vote for Putin, while Yavlinsky and Zhirinovsky were supported by two percent of the population. The remaining potential candidates could only count on less than one percent of the vote.
On March 18, around 109 million people were called for the presidential election. Vladimir Putin won the presidential election with around 76.7 percent of the vote. This was announced by the Central Election Commission after 99 percent of the ballot papers had been counted. Second place went to communist Pawel Grudinin with 11.8 percent, followed by right-wing populist Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 5.7 percent. 1.7 percent voted for the liberal journalist Xenia Sobchak, four other candidates received even fewer. The turnout was around 67 percent.
According to constructmaterials, Russian election observers from Golos who are close to the opposition recorded around 3,000 irregularities across the country. This is mainly about multiple votes, incorrect voter lists and defective ballot boxes. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has criticized the presidential election. Although the vote was largely correct, there was no real competition with President Putin. The political climate was marked by repression against critics and inadequate pressure was exerted on the voters.
On May 7, Vladimir Putin was sworn in as President of Russia for the fourth time.
Putin’s fourth presidency
After his inauguration, Putin signed the decree “On the National Goals and Strategic Development Tasks of the Russian Federation up to 2024”. Various economic policy goals were set out in the so-called “ May ordinances ”. Putin calls on the government to rank Russia among the five leading economies in the world. In addition, life expectancy is to increase from currently 72.5 to 78 years and the poverty rate is to be halved.
On May 8, 2018, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who has been Prime Minister since 2012 and had previously been President of Russia for four years, was confirmed in office by the Duma with the votes of “United Russia” and the LDPR. The KPRF and “Just Russia” voted against the candidate proposed by President Putin. On May 18, Putin signed the appointment of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s new government. There are fourteen changes compared to the previous government, plus five new vice-premiers. The ministers in the economic bloc have largely remained the same.
According to Economy Minister Maxim Oreschkin, GDP growth could be increased to over 3% per year from 2021. Measures such as raising the retirement age are intended to accelerate economic development, but many experts criticize the reforms.
Constitutional reform and change of government
On January 15, 2020, in his annual State of the Union address, Putin proposed a reorganization of the political system and announced a series of constitutional changes. The prime minister and cabinet members will get more power through the constitutional amendment.
Dmitri Medvedev has announced that his government will resign. His successor is the head of the Russian tax authority Mikhail Mishustin. In the new cabin, 15 of the 31 members of the government have been replaced.
The constitutional amendments allow Vladimir Putin to run for two more terms as president. The vote planned for April 12, 2020 has been postponed due to the spread of the respiratory disease COVID-19.
The referendum on a comprehensively amended constitution took place on July 1, 2020. With a turnout of around 65 percent of those entitled to vote, according to the Russian election commission, almost 78 percent voted for and more than 21 percent against the constitutional amendments.
In addition to the so-called zeroing of the previous terms of office of the president, through which the incumbent president may run for two more candidates in 2024 and theoretically also in 2030, the state’s self-image of the Russian Federation is being redefined in many areas. The new constitutional text contains much more social and conservative content than the original constitution from 1993.