Duma Elections a Vote on “Moral Authority” – Putin

At an November 13th meeting with construction workers in Krasnoyarsk, President Vladimir Putin spoke about his reasons for heading the United Russia parliamentary ticket. According to the president, the party is flawed, “currently has no stable ideology or principles,” and is full of “freeloaders” and crooks. The party’s redeeming quality is that “it is close to the authorities.”

Still, Putin claimed that “we nevertheless have nothing better,” and claimed that he wanted to “convince people to vote for this party and help form the majority in the State Duma,” the Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported. Putin is barred by electoral law from campaigning for United Russia, and the president’s statement teetered the legal boundary between self-explanation and electioneering.

Putin concluded his statement by describing the Parliamentary elections as a test of his “moral authority,” and hinted that if United Russia wins a majority, he will be authorized to keep power, one way or another.

Political analysts are calling the Kremlin’s latest tactic a reaction to United Russia’s poor performance in polls. According to Gazeta.ru, the party is polling at nearly the same levels as before Putin’s decision to head its candidate list.

Dmitriy Badovskiy explained the logic of Putin’s statement to the online newspaper:

“Putin says: ‘Like you, I realize that United Russia is not ideal, but I think that if you vote for it it means that you trust me.’ This is an appeal to those people not prepared to vote for United Russia to vote for it as a mark of confidence in the president. Opinion polls in the coming week will show whether or not this works.”