RUSSIA VOTES: Putin for prime minister

By bne IntelliNews September 7, 2011

bne -

United Russia is on track to win 64% of the seats in the parliamentary elections set for December, which with a little tweaking of the results should lead to bne'sfollow-on scenario for the twin Duma and presidential elections: Vladimir Putin will remain prime minister and Dmitry Medvedev will keep his job as president.

Professor Lev Gudov, director of the independent pollster Levada Centre, says in an exclusive interview with bne that the ruling party United Russia currently would win 54% of those who said they have already made up their minds which way to vote, which would translates into 64% of the Duma seats in Russia's proportional representation system - just two points less than a constitutional majority and less than the 70% of the seats United Russia has now.

Levada's results are mirrored by the results from the state controlled VTsIOM (All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion), which also predicts United Russia will win 64% of the seats.

A figure of 64% of the Duma seats is a problem for Putin, but only a small one. As bne speculated in its piece Putin for president , Putin will probably stay as on PM if he has control of a constitutional majority, 66%, in the Duma. If United Russia wins 64%, there'll be the temptation to "tweak" the results and add the missing seats, which is what experts think happened last time. "In the last election, we estimate between 5% and 8% of the votes were falsified," says Gudkov.

A small fix of only 2 percentage points would be easy to organise and the result sufficiently close to the actually result that such a tweak is unlikely to cause the kind of popular dissent seen in the Belarusian elections last December, where President Alexander Lukashenko clearly ordered a massive rigging of votes.

And if Putin decides to stay on as PM, the most likely candidate for president is Dmitry Medvedev, although a dark horse candidate is always possible. Kudrin has been proposed as a possible replacement prime minister, but he is far too independent for Putin to trust him in the role of president.

Just Russia fate hanging

Where the two polls differ is that Levada predicts only three parties will get into the Duma on the December 4 vote: United Russia (64%), Communists (22%) and Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democrats (15%) with the latter two improving their positions from the current Duma (see chart).

However, VTsIOM predicts the Liberal Democrats will share their votes with A Just Russia, which serves in the current Duma, and both parties will get about 8%. Both pollsters say none of the other parties will clear the 7% threshold, including billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's business-friendly Right Cause.

Gudkov says that the poll trends are playing out almost exactly like previous elections in 2003 and 2007, with the current 54% approval rating within 2 points of United Russia's approval in the last two elections in each of the monthly polls the Centre has conducted this year.

Typically in November there is a surge in United Russia's popularity as the big guns are wheeled out and in the previous two elections United Russia went into the vote with ratings of 67% and 69% respectively.

Moreover, Zhirinovsky is unpredictable, as Gudkov says he is a "late finisher," pulling in most his voters in the last two weeks before the vote as he travels to depressed regional cities with this colourful nationalistic rhetoric and captures the swing vote.

A really interesting result would be if Putin accepts the 64% result and ensures his constitutional majority by relying on Zhirinovsky's vote if a crisis breaks out. This doesn't seem like Putin's style, although Zhirinovsky is clearly open to be bought.

On the one hand, the continuation of the tandem ensures political stability in the short to medium term and steady progress in the reform drive. But it could also lead to stagnation in the longer term as the corrupt client system between government and business becomes increasingly entrenched.

Related Articles

Drum rolls in the great disappearing act of Russia's banks

Jason Corcoran in Moscow - Russian banks are disappearing at the fastest rate ever as the country's deepening recession makes it easier for the central bank to expose money laundering, dodgy lending ... more

Kremlin: No evidence in Olympic doping allegations against Russia

bne IntelliNews - The Kremlin supported by national sports authorities has brushed aside "groundless" allegations of a mass doping scam involving Russian athletes after the World Anti-Doping Agency ... more

PROFILE: Day of reckoning comes for eccentric owner of Russian bank Uralsib

Jason Corcoran in Moscow - Revelations and mysticism may have been the stock-in-trade of Nikolai Tsvetkov’s management style, but ultimately they didn’t help him to hold on to his ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or 12 months full access inc. Magazine and Weekly Newspaper for just $119/year.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

Thank you for purchasing a bne IntelliNews subscription. We look forward to serving you as one of our paid subscribers. An email confirmation will be sent to the email address you have provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. The confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.