New Voices on Russia: Any Hopes or Changes From Russia’s Next Presidential Election?
with Yuval Weber (Woodrow Wilson Center)
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412
The Elliott School of International Afffairs
1957 E St NW
Ahead of the Russian presidential elections scheduled for March 18, President Putin is assured of victory but faces formidable electoral opponents: popular apathy and the threat of low turnout. In seeking a fourth term for Russia’s highest office, Putin’s advisors have set a target of 70% turnout and 70% in favor. If realized, the election result will justify the previous 18 years of Putin’s rule, but if not will raise serious concerns that Putin’s last day in office might come at a point much earlier than the end of the term in 2024.
This talk focuses on the issues facing President Putin the day after the elections — whether the 70/70 goal is achieved or not — and especially the various economic reform plans that have emerged as the largest substantive policy issue for the election. While “economic reform” may appear to be a complicated subject in any country, it has long been the third rail of Russian politics because it explicitly identifies the tensions between the demands of the market and the demands of the security state. As such, the winners and losers of previous economic reform efforts dating back to the Tsarist period have been motivated to bring down or prop up leaders and even the state itself. The outcome of this current economic reform effort will also shape Russia’s national security and foreign policies, as ongoing low growth will force tough choices between raising living standards at home and maintaining muscular stances abroad.
Yuval Weber (@yuvalweber) is currently a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a Kennan Institute Fellow at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School. He is additionally a Center Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and on leave from the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. He is currently working on a manuscript entitled Designed to Fail: Patterns in Russian Economic Reform, 1861-2018 for Agenda Publishing/Columbia Univ. Press, and has recent publications in Problems of Post-Communism, Survival, Orbis, Aspenia, and the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog.