Stage Managing the Election

_52809094_jex_1048816_de27-1-1.jpgAs President Medvedev prepares to take center stage for the biggest Q and A he has ever held this afternoon, journalists are pondering whether the President will take the opportunity to divulge any details about his election strategy.  Medvedev has apparently rebuffed questions about re-election with the comment, ‘Political life is not just show business and it’s not show business at all, it’s quite a complex job that is subject to certain processes which must be respected’.  The Power Vertical’s Brian Whitmore might argue otherwise, suggesting that there will be little in the way of the impromptu prior to this election, no matter how much conjecture is stirred.  Mikhail Prokorov’s surprise recent candidacy for the head of Right Cause party is, he argues, just another scene in the grand election puppet show, which is being artfully orchestrated by Vladimir Putin:

So one theory out there is that the groundwork is being laid for some form of managed competition between Putin and Medvedev in 2012. The assumption here is that Putin would return to the presidency, but the election would have a veneer of respectability and legitimacy.

This could be what’s going on, but I am far from convinced.

Themore likely scenario is that a decision about 2012 has not been reachedyet and the elite is setting up the political infrastructure to keep alltheir options open. The rest is political theater.

In a widely discussed report published online today, Kremlin-connectedpolitical analyst Dmitry Orlov, director general of Agency for Politicaland Economic Communications, argues that decision about who will bepresident in 2012 is being decided by “the most influential 25-30Russian politicians and businessmen” behind closed doors:

But whatever this select group decides, Orlov says the alliance between Putin and Medvedev will endure beyond the election:

It can be assumed with a high degree of probability that the tandem willlast until the end of the 2012 presidential election and then grow into alasting political alliance between Putin and Medvedev. The tandem’sobvious primary function during the election period, which actually hasalready begun, is to ensure the unity of the ruling elite — primarilyabout a single candidate for the presidency.

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