Putin Power

Amid a spate of articles conjecturing about the 2012 presidential elections, today on RFE/RL Richard Sakwa puts forward a convincing argument for why Vladimir Putin is unlikely to return to the position in two years time:

Even though he undoubtedly harbors aspirations to return to the presidency, and he is constitutionally entitled to do so, political calculations make this a hazardous enterprise. After all, he was the one who chose Medvedev in the first place, and any attempt to prevent the latter’s second term would be an implicit recognition that the choice was not a good one, thus reflecting poorly on Putin’s judgment. Allowing Medvedev a second term would reinforce stability and “continuity,” the watchword of the 2008 succession. Anything else would entail a political disruption.

Not that this should be taken as an abdication of power on the Prime Minister’s part of course.  The system itself could not be de-Putinised, as,

While constitutional power is in Medvedev’s hands,political authority is concentrated in the prime minister. With a solidparliamentary majority behind him, any attempt to dismiss Putin wouldthreaten the stability of the system in its entirety.

Although we’ve already pulled quotes from this article in an earlier post, it’s worth taking a look at Michael Stott’s lengthy Reuters analysis, which argues that political atrophy will persist in the era of the tandemocracy: 

Putin’s obsession with stability and his tight control of Russia may have created a blind alley from which the country cannot easily escape.

“Putin is the ultimate arbiter and the whole system depends on him,” one Western ambassador says. “It cannot function properly without him and that is a major risk in the long term.”

For some disquieting conjecture about the viable alternatives to the Putin regime in a country where democracy remains a distant mirage, read the full article here.