[DEBATE] : A Constitutional Majority for United Russia?
critical.montages at gmail.com
Tue Oct 2 11:22:35 BST 2007
It will be very interesting if United Russia can gain a constitutional
majority. -- Yoshie
Putin looks to retain power as PM
By Neil Buckley in Moscow
Published: October 1 2007 17:06 | Last updated: October 2 2007 08:59
Vladimir Putin on Monday said he might become Russian prime minister
and would head the ticket for the dominant party in parliamentary
polls in December – mapping out how he may retain power after standing
down as president next year.
Analysts said his comments signalled a possible shift towards a
parliamentary democracy in Russia, weakening the powers of the
presidency but strengthening the prime minister's role – and providing
a route for Mr Putin to remain de facto leader of the country.
His surprise announcement electrified the Russian political world,
long obsessed with whether Mr Putin might change the rules to remain
in office for a third term and, if not, what the supremely popular
president – whose approval ratings top 70 per cent – would do next.
The Russian president re-iterated at a congress of the pro-Kremlin
United Russia party that he did not plan to alter the constitution.
That bars him from standing again when his second presidential term
ends next March.
But, to a jubilant ovation, he said he would accept United Russia's
invitation to head its candidate list in elections to the Duma, or
lower parliamentary house, on December 2.
"To head the government is an entirely realistic proposal but it's too
early to think about this," Mr Putin said, after a series of speeches
from party members imploring him to retain influence and suggesting
ways that he could do so.
The Russian president said two conditions had to be fulfilled for him
to become premier – that United Russia won a hefty majority in the
December elections, and that a "decent, capable and contemporary
figure" was elected president next March.
Possible candidates include Sergei Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev, both
first deputy prime ministers, and the newly-elected prime minister,
Analysts said Mr Putin was unlikely to take a seat in parliament
which, under Russian rules, he is not required to do even if he heads
a party list for the elections. The system is run entirely on the
basis of proportional representation. As the rules also allow, Mr
Putin said he did not plan to become a member of the United Russia
But Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-linked political analyst, said Mr Putin's
leadership of the list could give a huge popularity boost to United
Russia, potentially propelling it from 50 per cent to a two-thirds
majority in the 450-seat Duma.
"This means United Russia will have not just a parliamentary majority
but a constitutional majority," Mr Markov said, enabling the party to
introduce constitutional changes without needing other parties'
Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst close to the Kremlin, said the
plan meant that for the first time since 1991, "in the Kremlin will
sit the president, but not necessarily the national leader".
Nikolai Petrov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Centre think-tank,
said Mr Putin's statement could mean a significant increase in the
role of prime minister and an increase in the accessibility of Russian
More information about the Debate-list