Incumbent president Vladimir Putin won Sunday’s elections with 76.7% of the votes at 67% turnout, according to preliminary figures announced by the Central Election Committee and based on 100% of the protocols. The result is above expectations and for the first time the winning presidential candidate receives the votes of more than 50% of all registered voters (56mn out of 108mn voters). According to earlier reports this was Kremlin’s goal in the elections. The elections suffered from the usual weaknesses (e.g. biased media coverage, use of administrative pressure), but so far there are no indications of widespread violations that could potentially lead to protests.
There are no big surprises in regard to other candidates – the communist party candidate Grudinin won the second place with 11.8%, followed by Zhirinovsky with 5.7% and the two liberal candidates Sobchak and Yavlinsky with 1.7% and 1%, respectively. The remaining three candidates have less than 1%. All candidates apart from Putin have lower results than expected, especially Zhirinovsky, which can be explained with the mobilization of voters behind Putin due to the new standoff with the West over the Skripal poisoning.
The regional breakdown shows rather uniform support for Putin, including 71% in Moscow and 75% in St Petersburg. The lowest results were seen in the Far East, where the communist candidate enjoyed higher popularity. In Crimea, Putin received over 92% of the votes. The elections also confirmed the fragmented and weak liberal opposition. In Moscow and St. Petersburg the combined result of Sobchak and Yavlinsky was only 7-7.5% (roughly 4% for Sobchak and 3% for Yavlinsky). This is not a surprise considering the constant rows among the non-systemic opposition parties and also Navalny’s attacks against Sobchak.
Going forward, Putin’s inauguration should be held on May 7 and after that he will announce the new government. Commenting on the issue, Putin said that he already starts thinking about the composition, but the decision should be taken when his new term starts. We expect only small changes that will ensure continuity. The unexpectedly strong result of Putin will also reduce incentives for changes, in our view. Meanwhile, attention will fall on the new “May presidential decrees”. The Kremlin already instructed the presidential administration and the government to prepare a draft document by April 15. It should build on the goals outlined in Putin’s election address from March 1. These include achieving growth above the global average till 2024, doubling per capita GDP, reducing poverty by half, increasing investments to 25% of GDP, raising wages and pensions in real terms.