Russia politics: Quick View - Putin dismisses 11 governors

Content Type
Country Data and Maps
Institution
Economist Intelligence Unit
Abstract
No abstract is available.
Topic
Politics, News Analysis, Forecast, Political stability
Political Geography
Russia

Event

In less than two months the president, Vladimir Putin, has replaced 11 governors.

Analysis

The ruling party, United Russia, won all 16 of the 85 federal subjects that held direct gubernatorial elections on September 10th. Most of the winning candidates had been appointed by Mr Putin as acting governors earlier in the year as part of the president's move to introduce a younger generation of leaders who have built their political careers under his tenure. The newly confirmed governors include Anton Alikhanov (31) in Kaliningrad, Andrei Nikitin (37) in Nizhny Novgorod, and Dmitry Ovsyannikov (40) in Sevastopol.

In the month after the elections Mr Putin dismissed 11 governors, some of which had been in office for less than three years. They lost Mr Putin's confidence for a host of reasons, including unpopularity in their region; a failure to consolidate local elites; perceptions of corruption; and a lack of results.

We believe that Mr Putin has made these gubernatorial changes with the 2018 presidential election in mind. In the Russian political system governors are responsible for ensuring that their region delivers a clear victory for establishment candidates in national elections. In the run-up to the presidential election Mr Putin's administration will aim for a comfortable margin of victory combined with a respectable turnout (70% of voters). Although our core forecast assumes a clear victory for Mr Putin in the first round, it is unclear how the authorities will ensure a high turnout in an election featuring no credible alternatives. His opponents include four-time loser Gennady Zyuganov (Communist Party of the Russian Federation, CPRF), four-time loser Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), media personality Ksenia Sobchak (no political experience and 53% of Russians oppose having a woman as president according to Levada, a poll centre), but not the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who surprised the authorities by claiming almost 30% of the vote in the 2013 Moscow mayoral election.

The gubernatorial changes also serve to burnish Mr Putin's non-partisan credentials, as the new governors come not only from Mr Putin's United Russia, but also from Just Russia and the CPRF. More tactically, by promoting younger officials Mr Putin is signalling to the electorate that his government will not be complacent, despite having dominated national politics for nearly 18 years.

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