- On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing him to run for two consecutive new terms.
- A hypothesis that would make him remain president until 2036, at 84 years old.
- For Lukas Aubin, a specialist in Russia, this theoretical power can nevertheless falter because of the weariness of the population.
On Monday, Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing him to run for two new presidential terms, which could give him the reins of Russia until 2036. Before this law, a Russian president could not run for more than two consecutive terms. A ban that Vladimir Poutine had already circumvented in 2008 after these first two presidential terms, since he had then taken the post of Prime Minister while Dmitry Medvedev… former Prime Minister of Vladimir Poutine, officially became president.
In 2012, after the tenure of Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin again became president and in the process extended the presidential term from four to six years. With the law signed on Monday, the Russian leader, who should have stopped in 2024, can therefore keep power until 2036. For Lukas Aubin, doctor and researcher in geopolitics specializing in Russia, this power can however quickly become fragile because of the disinterest of the population.
Has Vladimir Putin just signed a law making him a potential president for life?
Vladimir Putin will be 83-84 years old in 2036 and he could hold power in Russia for the rest of his life. Technically, therefore, it is quite possible that he will die in power. The alternative and the alternation still do not exist in Russia, and if the population increasingly contests this aging power – Vladimir Putin is nicknamed “grandpa Putin” – there is also a form of resignation and acceptance: the Russians understood that Vladimir Putin would be a sort of czar in charge until his last breath.
Will the population therefore accept this extension of power?
For the new generation and the youth, there is weariness and the desire for a viable opposition, and it is moreover the youth that we find mainly in “visible oppositions” such as demonstrations. But the system built by Vladimir Putin for twenty-one years has so invested all the organs of power in the country that there is the feeling of an impossibility of change, that everything is too padlocked. Vladimir Putin’s political party, United Russia, controls everything, there is a kind of resignation in the face of the impossibility of alternation. Even in the Russian parliament, the Duma, the three parties other than United Russia – already ultramajoritarian – never contest the decisions of the government. This feeling of a lost fight anyway makes it difficult for the Russians to challenge.
Vladimir Poutine also plays a lot on the idea of stability, recalling the chaos in the 1980s and 1990s. He no longer convinces as before, but he takes out the card of “It’s not so bad”, by boasting in addition to offering a “chameleon power”, changing over the contexts for the country. For example, he was very liberal in the early 2000s, today he is very conservative.
Vladimir Putin likes to pose as a strong man. Will being in power at 80 not harm this image?
It has already started. In recent months, there have been rumors in the Russian opposition press of a sick president with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, and while it is not certain that this is true, these rumors are already the sign of a visible weakness on the part of the president. We know his appetite for sports staging, it will become more and more difficult to do, but he has put in place safeguards in order to keep a sporting and strong imagination around him, by surrounding himself with sportsmen. of high level, young and dynamic personalities, more lively politicians, who will embody this force in its place.
A resigned population, legislation to its advantage … Is Vladimir Poutine sure to stay in power?
The vast majority of the youth are completely indifferent to Vladimir Putin, more than acceptance, there is disinterest. And this disinterest can become dangerous for the Russian power: how to have an authoritarian power when nobody listens to it? In previous elections, the United Russia party did not try to win the ballot – victory was acquired from the start – but to get people to come to the polls, because too much abstention would discredit the power.
We must never think that a situation is totally inevitable, nothing says that the next elections will not see intense disputes. The Russians were also shocked at how Vladimir Putin extended his potential power until 2036 when he kept saying he would not stand again. No matter how much propaganda tries to obscure these statements or give them another meaning, the people are beginning to feel cheated.
We also saw clearly in Belarus how an authoritarian power could suddenly be very contested and how everything remained very fragile, all the more so with the disinterest of the Russians. A backlash is possible.