Victory today will extend Putin’s presidential mandate to 2024.
Russians will head to the polls today and almost inevitably re-elect Vladimir Putin as president.
Although there will be three other candidates—nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, communist Pavel Grudinin and socialite Ksenia Sobchak—their purpose is to add legitimacy to the election. Already Russia’s longest serving president since Stalin, victory today will extend Putin’s presidential mandate to 2024.
Despite the expected easy victory, Putin’s fourth six-year term could be his toughest since assuming the presidency in 2000. Beset by Western sanctions, some 20 million Russians live in poverty, with the younger generation progressively unsatisfied with their circumstances. On top of that, Russia is becoming increasingly bogged down by conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Syria is particularly problematic for Putin; far away from home and unable to leave until his ally Bashar al-Assad has restored his government, he has little option but to stay the course.
With the current Russian constitution barring Putin from running again in 2024, this could be his final stint as president. Alternatively, Putin could choose to alter the constitution, or step down in 2024 and rule from the shadows.