The 2018 Russian Presidential Election: “No-Mistakes” Strategy towards Authoritarianism

By: Daria Shvirikasova

I remember how on November 9, 2017 I woke up in disbelief that Donald Trump was elected
president in USA. “The Americans will feel pain for this mistake”, I thought. Now I know: at least
Americans are allowed to make mistakes. Russians, on the other hand, are not. I will not wake up
on March 19 wondering who the next president of Russia is. Not because Russian electorate is
predictable, not because there is political stability in the country. Because Russians simply do not
get to choose whether they can or cannot make mistakes. An overpowering control of the Russian
authority with political elite on the top has made an impressive effort to ensure that there is not a
single chance for the 2018 elections to have an unexpected (or should I say unplanned) outcome.
I’ve struggled for a long time to acknowledge that current political regime in Russia is
authoritarian. However, the striking thought that Russian society is not given a choice of making
mistakes resolved this dilemma in favour of authoritarianism.

The purpose of this article is to reflect on political state of Russia as an authoritarian regime in the
light of the 2018 elections. I will first briefly analyze the country’s position on international arena
to demonstrate the discrepancies in the image of Russia pictured by the authorities and the way its
strategy seen in the world. Then I will move on to analysis of the 2018 elections through providing
a brief prehistory, in particular, the constitution amendment of 2008 and new interpretation of the
provisions in regard to number of terms an individual can serve as the president. Next, I will
demonstrate why the Russian electorate does not have a choice in the current elections through
analyzing the candidates and pre-election race. In conclusion, I will summarize my arguments and
reflect on why the right to make mistakes is the crucial factor in identifying whether Russia is a
democratic or authoritarian regime.

Read Daria Shvirikasova’s first and very promising blogpost about the recent 2018 elections in Russia (click on link below to view the article)


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