Following up on his Feb. 24 article, “First Impressions of Russia’s Upcoming Presidential Election,” independent political analyst Gilbert Doctorow takes a close look at how the election is shaping up in the days before the vote.
By Gilbert Doctorow
The candidates for the presidency in Russia’s election this Sunday are now in the home stretch. Not much has changed in the past several weeks as regards the standings of each in the polls of voter sympathies. Vladimir Putin holds the lead, way out in front, with nearly 70% of voters saying they will cast their votes for him. The candidate of the Communist Party, Pavel Grudinin, has held on to second place, at just over 7% despite suffering some severe setbacks over revelations of his bank accounts held abroad. And third place, with just over 5% goes to the nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR.
Liberal candidate, Ksenia Sobchak, who positioned herself to catch the protest vote “against all,” has about 1.5%. The remaining four candidates – Sergei Baburin, Maxim Suraikin on the Communist Left and Boris Titov, Grigory Yavlinsky on the Liberal Right – have fractions of one percent of the electorate committed to them.
Candidate Putin appears on track to achieve the 70:70 target that his campaign team set for him, meaning a turnout on election day of 70% of the electorate, of which 70% vote for Putin. Such results would support a claim to popular validation of his domestic and foreign programs for the coming six years. It would give him a free hand for substantial reworking of the cabinet, which, rumor says, may come in the days immediately ahead.
However, the campaign is about process as much as it is about results, and at that level there is a great deal which merits consideration because of what this electoral campaign says about the condition of Russian democracy today and where the country is headed.
The campaign has had several dimensions, some of which require that you be physically present to experience them, others of which can be followed from remote, as I have done. For total immersion, one would have to follow the various candidates around the country as they have…