Control of the Duma paves the way for Putin’s reelection in 2024

Control of the Duma paves the way for Putin’s reelection in 2024
Control of the Duma paves the way for Putin’s reelection in 2024

Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a file image. EFE / EPA / ALEXEY DRUZHININ

Moscow, Sep 21 (EFE) .- The Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, has paved the way for re-election in 2024 after revalidating the Kremlin party, United Russia, the constitutional majority in the Duma or Lower House, but has done so to the cost of pushing away the opposition and between allegations of fraud.
“Now Putin has every opportunity to stay in power,” Alexandr Baúnov, an expert from the Carnegie Moscow Center, told EFE, for whom the parliamentary elections that were held from September 17 to 19 were a “test of resistance” for the Russian authorities.
The last two years have been tough for Russians due to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic recession.
Russian GDP contracted 3% last year, the biggest drop in 11 years, and the Russian population is now 10% poorer than in 2013, according to the Higher School of Economics, as real disposable income has fallen.
In parallel, the space for civil society and independent voices has been increasingly reduced by the measures promoted by the Kremlin in the Duma and ranging from the repression of peaceful protests in early 2021 in favor of the jailed opposition leader Alexéi Navalni to the adoption of laws to muzzle independent media, journalists and NGOs or the outlawing of opposition movements.
On the eve of the legislative elections, several opposition candidates were vetoed.
The European Union (EU), the United States and the United Kingdom questioned the cleanliness of the elections and criticized “the marginalization” of the opposition in the elections.
These elections “did not even smell democratic,” communist politician Nikolai Bondarenko told EFE, who has accused United Russia of stealing victory from his formation in various regions.
“We must understand that they are trying to strengthen their political model, but by imposing decisions by force and with violations of electoral law, they only further undermine and destabilize the country,” he said.
The Communists, considered loyal opposition to the Kremlin (they tend to vote with United Russia on important issues) have increased their representation as the second force in the Duma in elections, in part by benefiting from the protest vote.
“By denying citizens the possibility of expressing themselves through peaceful and legal means, the authorities inexorably push people to the streets, which is not conducive to political stability in Russia,” warns Bondarenko.
Experts consider that Putin has everything under control, because Navalni, the only one capable of standing up to Putin, is imprisoned, and despite allegations of fraud committed with electronic votes “no one protests in the streets,” says Báunov.
The Carnegie Center expert considers that United Russia used these elections as “a referendum aimed at showing the undecided” that the system has “the support of the majority of the population,” and thus guarantees its permanence in power.
A factor that especially favors Putin, who, after achieving a reform of the Constitution in 2020, will be able to run for re-election in 2024 and remain in the Kremlin until 2036.
For his part, analyst Andrei Bistritsky, representative of the Valdai Debate Club, close to the Kremlin, does not see in the victory of United Russia, which has been in power for 20 years, “a direct relationship” with a possible Putin candidacy in 2024 and defends that the legislative elections “say a lot about the changes in Russian society, its development.”
“The power structure changes, new generations of citizens are coming who were born after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. And they will need new representatives,” said Bistritski, who believes that “the development of political life in Russia is inevitable.”

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