The Russian election campaign will start in earnest today, just 28 days before the March 18 vote. Incumbent President Vladimir Putin looks set to win an unprecedented fourth term in office.
The latest polling has Putin at 71%, while the only serious opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, is barred from running and is calling for a boycott of the vote. In recent weeks, he was arrested at a protest, saw his offices raided and had his website blocked in what he says are efforts by authorities to torpedo his boycott efforts. Approved opposition candidates, such as TV personality Ksenia Sobchak, will likely vie to steal Navalny’s voters.
Navalny will aim to replicate the low voter turnout of 47% at the 2017 local and regional elections. Participation is normally higher at presidential elections, but a sub-65% figure may secretly be deemed by the Kremlin as a dent to Putin’s legitimacy. Post-election, expect the disparate opposition forces to get a morale boost and unite behind Navalny’s party if they consider the voter turnout to be a success. Otherwise, the opposition will remain split.
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John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.