Putin it Lightly


Clark English, Social Media Manager

So Russia had a presidential election not too long ago. Vladimir Putin won again. He got 77% of the vote running as an independent. To put that into perspective, the current president of the United States got 46.4% of the total votes and ran against one person (that’s a purposeful loaded statement, some votes did go to third parties). Putin nearly doubled the percentage of votes while simultaneously running against seven other Russian parties, ranging from the Communist Party to the Party of Growth. Putin decided to run as the Putin Party and won by a landslide.

Ask yourself, “what are Putin’s political views”. The answer is you don’t know. Why would you? Who cares about the russian political climate when they’re a high schooler? So let’s unmask the monster. Putin is an authoritarian leader with conservative views and strong patriotic positions. His aims however, are to minimize the economic gap between the rich and poor as well as remove the state from private businesses. This is done by minimizing state regulation and maximizing market freedoms. In turn however, any excess growth is then distributed to those deemed less fortunate. Despite Putin’s personal conservative views, he acts as a political centrist. The Russian congress shares the view that “Putin knows best” and backs him in full force, basically making them a formality of the Putin political train. Russia under putin has seen vast economic growth and major increases in quality of life, so while a democratically elected dictatorship covered in formal red tape seems like a silly thing to have, you can’t say that it isn’t working. Most of Putin’s voters were actually the newest generation of voters. Considering that Putin has reigned over Russia for as long as the new voters have been on this earth, it isn’t unusual to imagine them being his biggest fans.

So how does someone like Putin stay in control for so long? Those born during his first election just voted him back in afterall. Article 81, Section 3 of the Russian constitution states that: “One person may not hold the position of Russian president for more than two terms in a row”. The ‘in a row part’ is the key term there. Putin has been president from 2000-2008 and during the 2008-2012 presidency, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, passed a constitutional reform changing the presidential term from four years to six years, starting next election of course. During the 2008-2012 term, Putin was elected the prime minister of Russia, so yeah he was basically president, he just had to whisper sweet nothings into Mr. Medvedevs ear for four years to get things done is all. Then Putin returned in 2012 for his comeback tour. He won practically unopposed. Then he ran again this year for his second term and won in a landslide.

I’m not here to sway your opinion on Putin, it’s just that people see him as a political boogeymonster when in reality he’s just really good at his job. He’s practically resurrected Russia’s economy even in the immediate wake of the USSR, which had collapsed only seven years before Putin took power. But in doing so, he has violated and gamed the Russian constitution and the democratic trust at his own expense. So no matter which way you look at it, Putin is a political machine.