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What consequences will the results of the presidential elections have for their participants and all Russians?

Vladimir Putin’s record performance in the last presidential elections is the result of ongoing social consolidation, which gives the head of state the opportunity to make any decisions, including unpopular ones, experts say. At the same time, in their opinion, the president will still be limited by the scope of his own message to the Federal Assembly. Among other election participants, analysts highlight the “New People” candidate Vladislav Davankov, who received more votes than liberal nominees in the previous elections.

The target indicators for the last campaign (more than 70% turnout and more than 75% of votes for the “main candidate”), initially discussed in the internal political bloc of the presidential administration, were exceeded by a margin. According to preliminary data from the Central Election Commission, the turnout was 77.44%, and Vladimir Putin received 87.28% of the votes. This is a new record for presidential elections: the previous one also belonged to Mr. Putin, who in 2018 won 76.7% with a turnout of 67.5%.

The head of VTsIOM Valery Fedorov, commenting on these figures on Monday at a round table of the Expert Institute for Social Research (EISR), noted that if earlier it was possible to talk about a “Putin majority,” now the consolidation of voters can already be called a “Putin supermajority.”

Among the reasons for the emergence of the “supermajority,” the sociologist identified such factors as unity in the name of victory, demands for greatness and pride (patriotic upsurge), for development and an image of the future, emotional uplift and the factor of an outstanding leadership position. Political scientist Alexey Chesnakov, also citing social surveys, added another factor – the policies of Western countries. According to him, voters wanted “there to be tough resistance to the West and constant attempts to put pressure on Russia.”

Experts interviewed by Kommersant also mention the factor of mobilizing the electorate. Even during the preparation for the 2018 elections, according to Kommersant’s information, the Kremlin’s internal political bloc paid a lot of attention to improving mobilization mechanisms, and signs of this process could be seen in the run-up to the 2024 campaign. For example, United Russia has repeatedly talked about cleaning up and expanding its mobilization base.

“The regions were reinsured using the administrative methods of mobilization available to them. Everyone had to jump above their heads,” notes the head of the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation, Mikhail Vinogradov. At the same time, in his opinion, the government’s tasks for this campaign were more of a technical rather than political nature, and in society it is unlikely that anyone will question the election results: “In recent years, we have seen a trend towards absolutization of numbers, rather than their grace”.

Political scientist Alexander Asafov is confident that these are “not Soviet times” and no one will be involved in exceeding the plan: “Even if we assume that there are such expectations, they all come from completely rational characteristics, from judgments related to the sociological analysis of the regions. And moreover, they are not united: each region has its own “task”.” According to the expert, the election results exceeded forecasts due to various factors, including “emotional and patriotic.”

Political scientist Evgeniy Minchenko, meanwhile, believes that the result obtained by the president gives him the opportunity to make unpopular decisions: “Actually, they (such decisions.— “Kommersant”) were even announced – the same tax reform.”

Political scientist Ekaterina Kurbangaleeva agrees that the result achieved in the elections gives Mr. Putin “carte blanche” for any actions. “Even if someone has any doubts about this, what is officially announced and made public is already a fait accompli, everything else is a matter of faith and interpretation,” she explains. Alexander Asafov stipulates that “the mandate received by the president is strictly defined by the framework that is defined in his message to the Federal Assembly.”

No noise and dust

Even at the start of the presidential campaign, Kommersant sources knowledgeable about the Kremlin’s guidelines and experts working with the authorities said that the elections should be held calmly and without elements of a “political show.” This was justified by the wishes of citizens identified during surveys. This is what happened in the end: the campaign took place without any bright political battles or intense competition, and experts more than once noted the weakness of the programs and campaigning on the part of opposition candidates.

“Competitiveness was ensured, but alternativeness, as well as the presence of a strategy among opposition candidates, was not evident,” Alexey Chesnakov pointed out at the EISI round table. “All the candidates waged a civilized, clean, cultural campaign, which attracted additional voters,” political scientist Pavel Danilin, who spoke at the same EISI event, saw his pluses in his minuses, however.

Be that as it may, the final alignment among Vladimir Putin’s three opponents turned out to be predictable.

Long before the vote, experts predicted that the gap between them would be minimal and almost anyone could become second. As a result, Nikolai Kharitonov (KPRF) received silver with 4.31% (about 3.7 million votes), Vladislav Davankov (New People) was less than half a percent behind – 3.85% (3.3 million), and Leonid Slutsky (LDPR) closed the list with 3.2% (2.7 million). That is, the gap between second and fourth places was just over 1% and a million votes. However, experts did draw some conclusions from these results. For example, Mr. Chesnakov called the prospects of the LDPR in the 2026 State Duma elections “not obvious.”

But the result of Vladislav Davankov, if we consider him a politician of the liberal spectrum, was considered by experts to be quite high, because both in votes and in percentage he received more than the total of Ksenia Sobchak and Grigory Yavlinsky in the 2018 elections (1.68% and 1.05 % respectively). By the way, some non-systemic oppositionists also called for voting for Mr. Davankov. True, Yevgeny Minchenko does not consider him a liberal candidate: “He is rather a patriotic progressive. This still does not entirely correlate with what is now called liberalism in the West. It is a combination of an entrepreneurial agenda, a youth agenda, a development agenda and a normalization agenda – and at the same time with a very precise emphasis on patriotism.”

Alexander Asafov believes that in relation to Vladislav Davankov we can talk, if not about a breakthrough, then about a serious strengthening of his position as a politician and his party as a subject of nomination.

“Davankov managed to find his electorate, and this is not connected with labels like “liberal” or “anti-war candidate” that they tried to attach to him,” the political scientist emphasizes, recalling that the candidate of “New People” clearly outlined his position on the SVO as “ for peace after the victory.” Mikhail Vinogradov also agrees that Mr. Davankov’s result does not allow us to talk about the size of the liberal niche. In his opinion, it is difficult to estimate its size also because for many representatives of liberals the very act of going to the polls is not a socially approved step. “Someone says that she is (a liberal niche.— “Kommersant”) is 1%, some – 30%. Both cannot be verified,” the expert concludes.

As for the candidates from the parliamentary opposition in general, there is no point in drawing any conclusions based on the results of their performance in the current elections, says Ekaterina Kurbangaleeva. The difference in their results “is within the limits of statistical error,” which is logical, the political scientist explains: all attention should have been given to the first person, while the rest were left to play the role of the “ancient choir.” And Mikhail Vinogradov notes the presence of “a deficit of legal public supply in politics, including younger ones.” “Another thing is that the official agenda does not promote the thesis “we are all different”, but rather “all our troubles are from the outside, but inside we are united as never before.” This makes it difficult to formulate a publicly acceptable opposition agenda,” sums up Mr. Vinogradov.

Andrey Vinokurov, Anastasia Kornya

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