NewsPutin secures fifth term amid high turnout and expectations of conflict

Putin secures fifth term amid high turnout and expectations of conflict

Władimir Putin
Władimir Putin
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons
4:55 PM EDT, March 18, 2024

The turnout was high, but the result was expected. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has been re-elected as the President of Russia for the fifth time, a victory that many experts see as fuel for the dictator's further aggressive actions. Russia is expected to continue its war against Ukraine and brace for potential conflicts with the West.

No surprises came from the Russian presidential election - Putin secured his rule for another term. According to preliminary data, a record 87 percent of voters supported the dictator.

Two decades ago, Putin won with a 53 percent vote share. This number increased to 71 percent in his next election. After Dmitry Medvedev's term, Putin was re-elected with 64 percent of the votes in 2012. The subsequent election boosted his support to 77 percent, showcasing a near-limitless backing from the Russian populace.

The performance of the other three candidates was inconsequential, as none managed to surpass the 5 percent threshold.

A massive propaganda operation

"The results were anticipated even before the elections," says Iwona Wiśniewska, an analyst at the Center for Eastern Studies, explaining the process as a plebiscite allowing the Kremlin to focus on Ukraine, its top priority. She highlights the strategic timing post-winter, which might favor the Russian military's operations given their current superior supplies compared to Ukraine. However, it remains uncertain whether Russia possesses a sufficient advantage for an effective offensive, despite Putin's plans.

According to Wiśniewska, the conflict will be a priority for Putin in the weeks following his re-election.

"These were not elections," states Jerzy Marek Nowakowski, a former Polish ambassador, describing the process as a significant propaganda effort. He believes Putin is well aware of his genuine support level, despite the orchestrated voting results.

Putin's victory solidifies his power, ensuring no internal challenges from the power elite, despite facing opposition from figures like Alexei Navalny and Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Adam Eberhardt, deputy director of the Eastern Europe Study at the University of Warsaw, concurs that Putin's strategic goals, particularly those involving Ukraine and confrontations with the West, remain unchanged. He emphasizes how the war aids Putin's regime by consolidating support within Russia.

Prof. Hieronim Grala expects no significant changes in Russia's policies or in the conduct of the Ukrainian conflict, likely leading to a prolonged, frozen conflict similar to Abkhazia but on a larger scale. He also warns of Putin's potential overconfidence following his overwhelming victory.

Prof. Grala discusses the growing political isolation of Putin and the marginalization of potential independent actors within Russia, indicating a lack of real challenges to Putin's authority.

The article then addresses the elites' passive stance amidst tightening sanctions and increasing dissatisfaction, suggesting their hope for a potential shift in power dynamics while remaining cautious of challenging Putin directly.

It mentions opposition attempts to challenge Putin's rule, including acts of defiance at the polling stations against the backdrop of conflicts in border regions.

Prof. Grala speculates on the elites' perception of the election results, questioning whether they display strength or an unbridled pursuit of personalized goals by the Kremlin.

The article concludes by exploring the societal impact of the war in Ukraine on Russian families and speculates on Putin's objectives for his new term, amid expectations of geopolitical shifts.

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