Public opinion polls in Russia reflect exhaustion with the Putin Brand…Even he may come to realize he would be better advised to reverse course as per my earlier analysis (see below). In the short term, his United Russia party may suffer Duma losses in the mid-December national elections.
This fall the members of Russia’s State Duma, the national legislature, are up for election and it is widely assumed that United Russia will again have a comfortable margin although other parties will be represented in the next Duma, as at present. Nationwide, thousands of candidates, representing three or four organized parties, or no party, stand for election at all levels of government in the Russian Federation on a continuing basis… Russia today is a free market democracy.
In March 2012, it is likely that four candidates for President of Russia will once again offer themselves to the electorate. Both Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin have kept everyone guessing as to which man, as between these two favorites, will vie for the head of government position… My hope and expectation is that President Medvedev will be that man.
It is hard to overstate Vladimir Vladimirovich’s accomplishments during his tenure at the top since 1999. The situation he found upon his advent is spelled out in OUT OF THE RED (2008) and he certainly brought order from chaos and he and his team enjoyed a tremendous GDP growth spurt in the mid-decade and made admirable progress in helping to bring the Russian economy and its outstanding companies into the modern era…
In a Valdai meeting, VV mused that FDR also had a long tenure due to national crises in the US… At this point, VV is pushing up against FDR’s tenure already (FDR died early in his 4th term) and Russia today does not face crises comparable to WWII following on the Great Depression. My own sense is that Putin has shot his wad; leaders of private and public spheres typically do after 10 years at any task… I never bought into the “a tandem cannot work” theory, though, and VV and Dima have been a great team, working together effectively so if Putin continues on as Prime Minister, they presumably can continue that run.
Medvedev can certainly be said to have met the test Yeltsin set for Putin in showing strength and determination in the “Take Care of Russia” department. Putin can be as proud of his judgment in moving Medvedev up as Yeltsin was of giving VV the nod.
Medvedev gets it… He is not only a youthful, smart, sophisticated, internationalist leader, he has innovated in the right areas and is determined that Russia will build on its base of high tech brains and accomplishments and move out into the world (Please God, let’s get the WTO behind us) dynamically and take Russia’s place among modern nations, with the result of higher growth and a more diversified economy. In short, better return for investors in companies in a marginally higher growth economy (That’s my job: to look for higher returns for investors!). Perhaps even ameliorating the hurtful “Russia Discount” (the market’s multiple today is 8, way below the other BRICs)… Almost by definition, for Putin to assert his right to once again be President would be a step backwards for Russia, a step in the wrong direction, and could engender increasing sclerosis in the economy… My judgment is he will not do it.