It is the golden referendum for Vladimir Putin, who has to be counted in order not to look bad in an increasingly contested Russia.
The Russians have already started to vote on the constitutional reform that will give the Russian president the possibility to remain in power until 2036 and which determines the inclusion of “faith in God” in the text, although this has never been central to the Government’s campaign.
But it was the bizarre initiative of organizing prize lotteries (including apartments, cars, mobile phones, movie tickets, discounts) for those who put the bulletin in the ballot box. And there are known reports of pressure on public officials and subsidies for online influencers who can appeal for the vote, in a consultation that is not officially a referendum, but only a “popular vote” to guarantee a reform called for by the people, as announced by Putin, in January.
The official date of the referendum, postponed since April 22, is the next July 1, but the covid-19 pandemic has prompted authorities to extend the vote for several days, since June 25, online and in polls scattered around the sites. more obtuse – even in public transport. And it was decided on July 1 with the argument of the questionable epidemic slowdown (“Putin canceled the epidemic to allow the vote”, recently quipped the newspaper “Nevassimaïa Gazeta”, in the face of thousands of new daily cases), which several analysts cited in the press prefer to see it as a hurry for everything to happen before the coming economic crisis.
One question, 46 amendments
Because increasing participation will give the consultation the legitimacy of a referendum, a figure that exists in the Russian Constitution, drafted in 1993, but implies strict rules of financing and inspection. Now, that is not what is intended.
It is rather the sneaky passage of a nationalist text that glorifies the Russian past (understand, Soviet), forbids citizens with dual nationality to hold public office, forbids homosexual marriage, introduces God into the State and enshrines the preservation of the family and language . And that adds to the consecration of minimum income and the remodeling of the Government. Total: 46 amendments to a single question.
Approved in the Duma (parliament) a short two months after being presented, Putin’s proposal was amended hours before the parliamentary vote, to include the return to zero of presidential terms as of the entry into force of the new text.
This means that, in 2024, when the current term ends (the second in a row, after a break as prime minister which, in turn, has followed two presidencies, started in May 2000), Putin can run again. if twice, the limit of mandates that, thus, it was not even necessary to change. Until 2036. In the name of stability and in order not to waste precious time discussing putative successors instead of working, Putin himself admitted, now 67 years old and his popularity in erosion.
Among the authorized parties, the communist opposition criticized the reform – because it will make Putin “a pharaoh, the tsar” – but did not campaign against it. And the leader of the challenge to the president, the ever detained and released Alexei Navalny, prefers to defend the boycott over the vote, lest the reform be backed up by a massive “popular vote”.
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