The recently concluded Russian presidential election warrants a close scrutiny. In what was effectively a one horse race, anything less than an impressive victory could have weakened President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power.
Putin’s victory, with a 76.7% vote share, came amidst high tensions between London and Moscow over an attack against an exiled agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter in Salisbury. Interestingly, only a month before, China’s National People’s Congress had voted to remove restrictions on term length, effectively making Xi Jinping the country’s President for life.
Why is Putin’s victory controversial?
The total number of ballots cast for Putin exceeded 56.2 million. That was a record total, even discounting the nearly 1 million votes he gained as a result of the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Though the victory is not being seen as a fair one, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said that there had been no real choice in Russia’s presidential elections and complained that it had been marked by unfair pressure on critical voices. Campaigning usually begins a few months before the polls and, as in the past years, Putin had shunned televised debates.
Europe has been sharply divided over the outcome. The new right-wing populists has been rejoicing where as some feel that it is necessary to repair the difficult relationships and the rest feel that Russia under Putin, has irreversibly turned away from western liberal values and international norms.
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