Russian voters gave President Vladimir V. Putin resounding approval for a fourth term on Sunday, with nearly complete figures from the Central Election Commission showing him winning more than three-quarters of the vote with a turnout of more than 67 percent. The Kremlin had initially projected that Mr. Putin would get at least 70 percent of the vote with a 70 percent turnout, and the results with 99.84 percent of the ballots counted were in line with that assessment.
Mr. Putin won 76.6 percent of the vote, and the turnout of 67.47 percent was higher than the 65 percent participation rate in the last presidential election, in 2012. More than 56 million of Russia’s 110 million eligible voters backed Mr. Putin. A poor showing by the already fractious opposition prompted a bitter public dispute between the two most high-profile liberal politicians, with one denouncing the other as a Kremlin stooge even before the polls closed. The big numbers allow Mr. Putin, 65, to claim a popular mandate for another six-year term, which under current term limits should be his last. Mr. Putin has been president since 2000, stepping aside for one term as prime minister to get around term limits.Photo
President Vladimir V. Putin at his campaign headquarters in Moscow on Sunday.CreditSergei Ilnitsky/EPA, via Shutterstock Mr. Putin is expected to continue with little change in terms of trying to rebuild Russia as a global power while limiting economic reforms at home. Given his lame-duck status, many expect the fight will now begin in earnest among the Kremlin elite to choose his successor. In a late-night news conference broadcast live on television, Mr. Putin said he could now begin thinking about changes in the makeup of the government. Asked if he was also planning any changes in the Constitution, particularly any that would allow him to remain in power beyond 2024, he said it was an odd night to ask such a question.
“Let’s count — what, will I be sitting here until I’m 100 years old?” he said. “No.” Aleksei V. Makarkin, a leading analyst at the Center for Political Technologies, a Moscow-based think tank, called the turnout quite high considering that there was no question about the outcome. “This is a mandate to pursue any policy,” he said. “Society trusts Putin and believes that he can deal with any internal and external problems.” The voting was more a referendum than a choice, but there is no question that Mr. Putin is wildly popular among Russians. His picture and his campaign slogan, “Strong President, Strong Russia,” blanketed the country, and many voters who supported him echoed that sentiment. Source https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/18/world/europe/election-russia-putin-president.html