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Tag: elections

A Tale of Two Putins

Having turned the law into an instrument of state policy and private vendetta and having turned the legislature into a caricature without power of independence, can Vladimir Putin afford to become an ex-president? Conventional wisdom would say that he cannot. Without being at the top of the system, he is at best vulnerable and at worst dead, and he knows it.

In March Vladimir Putin will, it is safe to predict, win re-election. The real questions relate to what happens after the election, with some predicting a thaw, while others expect even more authoritarian policies. Will Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev be replaced? Will there be renewed overtures to the West? In many ways, though, this may betray our own biases, as Kremlinologists from democratic nations naturally assume that an election represents a boundary point from one state to another. Yet in a system such as Putin’s, sometimes described as a managed democracy, it is much more clearly managed than democratic. Indeed, of late it has come to feel as if the Kremlin regards the various trappings of democracy – not just elections but also press conferences, legislative sessions and consultations – as an increasingly irritating burden.

February 26, 2018 - Mark Galeotti

To challenge Putin’s regime

The Kremlin has nothing to offer Russian citizens except stability without economic growth and no clear perspective. This will eventually bring down Vladimir Putin’s regime. The opposition, however, is not yet fully ready to take power when that happens.

“Yes, Putin has many shortcomings, but there is no alternative to him.” I have heard this phrase in Russia countless times, from shopkeepers and artists, to professors of physics and retirees. I read it in Russian (mostly) state-controlled media. Nevertheless, I am surprised every time I hear it. “Well, of course not,” I usually reply. “After all, Putin takes all necessary steps so that no alternative will arise.” It is the main goal that the giant state propaganda machine, special services, heads of Russian regions and ordinary officials pursue 24 hours a day. Nineteen years after Vladimir Putin was first elected as president, the argument that there is no alternative illustrates only one thing: the absence of democracy in Russia. For many years, the country has been stuck with an authoritarian regime that has all but eliminated political competition and blocked any attempts to change the system. This is the regime’s strength as well as its weakness. Using an expression coined by leading Russian political analyst Lilia Shevtsova, the increasingly authoritarian regime needs a democratic form of legitimisation – this is the main political contradiction of the current regime in Moscow.

February 26, 2018 - Konstantin Eggert

Is Putinism sustainable?

At its core, Putinism is characterised by a fundamentally kleptocratic system that appears incapable of meaningful reform. For this reason, it is far more vulnerable to fissure than it may appear.

After nearly 20 years in power, Vladimir Putin has become more than just the symbol of an era – he is arguably its creator. A lawyer and former KGB officer, Putin is perceived by many to be one of the world's most powerful leaders and his cult of personality in Russia is unmatched by any other contemporary Russian politician. His tenure as president (2000-2008; 2012-present) and prime minister (1999-2000; 2008-2012) have left a permanent mark on Russia’s history. But is this regime sustainable? Does “Putinism” mean anything independent of its namesake?

February 26, 2018 - Łukasz Kondraciuk

Russia’s generation P

Russian digital natives have espoused a national identity that unites several governmentally sponsored narratives. The question, however, is how long Putin’s appeal to the younger generations will last. Even though they have not known anybody else in power, they might still be willing to trade great power aspirations for fresh tomatoes in winter.

With the presidential election looming, few people in Russia doubt that Vladimir Putin will remain the president. Google has already proclaimed Putin to be the winner. The Russian president might no longer enjoy 80 per cent support, but he is still by far the most popular politician in the country. A generation that has never known anyone else in power is now entering adulthood. And members of “Generation P” are going to vote this spring.

February 26, 2018 - Elizaveta Gaufman

Playing for high electoral stakes in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan likes to portray itself as Central Asia’s only democracy – but dog-whistle politics and dirty tricks deployed in the October 2017 presidential election muddied its democratic credentials.

“It’s like a game of poker,” said Medet Tursaliyev, a young man emerging from a polling station in Bishkek, the leafy laidback capital of Kyrgyzstan. “They’re playing all in – for high stakes.”

As Kyrgyzstan went to the polls on October 15th last year, Tursaliyev had hit the nail on the head: it was a high-stakes political battle of a type never witnessed before in Central Asia. His country made history by staging the first ever truly competitive presidential election in a region ruled by strongmen who usually cling to power for decades.

January 2, 2018 - Joanna Lillis

Russia saving its energy for January presidential election

Despite the Czech disinformation community being the most advanced and established compared to other Central European states, major challenges remain, especially in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections and the presidential election in January 2018.

October 21, 2017 - Jakub Janda

Will an independent mayoral candidate bring political change to Georgia?

On October 21st, Georgia will vote in local elections. According to a recent survey, if Tbilisi mayoral race enters a second round, Aleko Elisashvili, a prominent grassroots activist, is likely to emerge as a winner.

October 18, 2017 - David Sichinava

Georgian Parliamentary Election 2016. Parties under pressure

On October 8th 2016, Georgia will hold its eighth parliamentary election since declaring independence in 1991. This parliamentary election is critical to maintaining a "routinisation" of democratic practices in a country that just a few decades ago was under authoritarian rule. Unlike many of the other countries in the region, Georgia has managed to achieve democratic stability in recent years, despite the continued occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia. The October 2016 election is of  specific importance for Georgian politics not because there is a potential for revolution and regime collapse or regime change, as was the case in 2003 with the Rose Revolution, but precisely because of the opposite. The upcoming election will be the most competitive in Georgia to date, will likely see three or more political parties pass the five percent threshold and will possibly require a coalition government be formed. These facts are important because while elections have become routine in Georgia, many questions still surround the key democratic actors – political parties – and their ability either to lend legitimacy or to delegitimise the electoral process. The behaviour of political parties in the parliamentary election next month will be closely scrutinised. Whether parties will revert to old tactics of intimidation, violence, personal attacks, and an overall disregard for the rule of law in their fight for power is of a particular concern. Furthermore, the participation of female candidates will again be important for assessing levels of representation in Georgian politics.

September 26, 2016 - Melanie Mierzejewski-Voznyak

Georgia’s European integration cannot be postponed because of Brexit

Interview with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili. Interview by Paul Toetzke.

PAUL TOETZKE: Mr. President, you are basically closing out “Georgian weeks” in Germany after the visits of the Georgian speaker of parliament as well the prime minister a few weeks ago. Among others, you met with the German President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel. One important issue on the agenda was visa liberalisation for Georgians. Were there any promises made concerning the next steps?

July 2, 2016 - Giorgi Margvelashvili


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