Russia to hold referendum on President Putin’s future

Voting concludes today on the constitutional amendments proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The proposals, which could allow Putin to

Russia Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Voting concludes today on the constitutional amendments proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The proposals, which could allow Putin to stay in power till 2036, require a simple majority in favour and a turnout of eligible voters exceeding 50%. Amid rising public dissatisfaction and a historic dip in the president’s approval ratings, the Kremlin has sought to regain its popularity by a show of overwhelming endorsement of the proposed changes.

Despite criticisms of the referendum as an attempt to keep Putin in power, the opposition has failed to actively combat the reforms and it is widely expected that Putin will win the referendum vote.

Although a revised constitution could mean a longer period under Putin’s governance, it still sends contradictory signals of political transformation. By offering the State Duma greater say in the formation of government, some amendments make way for a potentially more institutionalised regime that is more parliamentary and therefore more plural. In the short-term, faced with a lack of alternatives, Russians are expected to support the reforms. However, the balloting is unlikely to re-establish public trust in the government and may fail to adequately validate Putin’s claim to an extended period of leadership.

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