After vote extending his rule, Putin risks era of ‘stagnation’
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For political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya, the changes went beyond just resetting Putin’s presidential term limits. “We shouldn’t underestimate the reforms, all these amendments concerning traditional values, social rights,” she says. “This is a way to cement Russia as it is, the current regime… to institutionalise Putin’s legacy.”
Russians backed the reforms in a week-long vote that ended Wednesday, with 77.92 percent voting in favour. Yet the overwhelming “yes” vote comes at a difficult time for Putin and does not reflect unbridled popularity for the Russian leader. Putin’s approval rating has plummeted to historic lows of 59 percent in recent months, partly over the government’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic but also over longstanding economic malaise. Stanovaya agrees, saying Putin’s administration in the coming years will not be able to improve the efficiency of the economy or protect business. “For Putin, the most important thing now is at least to avoid financial and social crises.”
The frustration is particularly felt among younger voters, who independent polls showed were largely opposed to the reforms.