Two out of five Russians (38%) do not wish to see President Vladimir Putin remain president after his current term in office expires in 2024, according to a Levada Center poll cited by Vedomosti daily on July 30.
Half (54%) of the respondents would want to see Putin remain president, while the number of undecided respondents stands at record-low 8%.
According to the Russian constitution Putin cannot stand as president at the end of this term and must leave. However, a possible union with Belarus could be seen as creating a new country and thus providing an excuse to side step the constitutional term limit. Another possible dodge being discussed is changing Russia from a republic to a parliamentary democracy and appointing Putin as prime minister.
Putin's popularity is sliding post-Crimea boost, undermined by weak economy, shrinking incomes, and the unpopular pension reform cutting the retirement age in 2018. The discussions of "Problem 2024" or the (non)transition of power from Putin in his last legal presidential term, which require a constitutional reform, are under way.
The number of those wishing to see Putin remain in Kremlin declined from the maximum of 67% in August 2017. Record-high number of respondents (43%) explained the trust in Putin with lack of any alternatives.
At the same time only 24% said confirmed the statement "people hope that Putin will be able to cope with country's problems in the future", the lowest in 19 years of polling.
Lev Gudkov of Levada Center commented that most critical to Putin are 25-30 years old respondents, which in the nearest future will be the decisive demographics. The negative sentiment peaks in Moscow, he added, expecting to trend to continue, as cited by Vedomosti.
Gudkov also noted the minimal number of undecided respondents as a sing of polarisation of Russian social space, which is characterised by the decline in the "loyal majority" of Putin's voters and activation of the unsatisfied.
However, other experts surveyed by Vedomosti reminded that most of respondents get active ahead of elections and otherwise do not consider the question of figure in power seriously. In 2016, two years ahead of the 2018 elections, Putin's ratings grew to 60% and only improved in the election build-up.