While American audiences rightly focus on our own 2012 presidential election, there is another presidential election that the world should be watching: The Russian presidential election. Russian politics presents political scientists with many challenges because one is never exactly sure what is going on behind the Kremlin walls. With that in mind, lets discuss what we do know. United Russia- the party headed by the current President-Prime Minister duo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin dominate the political airwaves within the Russian Federation, making a United Russia victory in the presidential election almost certain. While democracy and human rights advocates protest the fairness of such a system, Russians prefer a strong, firm, hand at the top of the Kremlin and our quite enamored with Vladimir Putin. Most everything Putin touches is golden within Mother Russia. Therefore, I would suggest follow Putin and the results to the election you shall find.
Constitutionally, Medvedev is allowed to seek a second term. Putin after serving two terms as President before sliding into the Prime Minister’s chair can also legally seek the presidency again because the Russian constitution forbids anyone from serving more than two consecutive terms. According to multiple sources, Medvedev has indicated that he would likely not run against Putin, if Putin decides to run. The Medvedev rationale is two fold 1. He is unlikely to win against the popular Putin and 2. Given Putin’s position of strength within United Russia, his political career would be likely over. But there’s been increasing question as to whether Mr. Putin has a desire to return to the job. Being president of Russia may be one of the most complex on the planet that takes absolute energy and focus, for whomever has the job. But there are several factors that play a significant role in who the president may be.
The Russian economy is largely dependent on oil and natural gas prices on the global market. High prices = good economy, low prices = bad economy. The North Caucasus region of Russia continues to be volatile, if the Kremlin is able to retain control there, it would represent a victory for the Putin-Medvedev coalition and quite possibly a re-election for the pair. If either of these falter, Medvedev will look weak and ineffective, potentially necessitating a change in the leadership coalition either to Putin himself or a third candidate, if Putin doesn’t have the energy for the job. Of course, since its’ Russia, this could be proven utter fantasy by the time the election comes. The Moscow Times did a much more in depth version of this available here: