Groundwork being laid for Vladimir Putin to run for his fourth term (out of a maximum of two)


The Russian constitution limits the president to two consecutive four-year terms, and Vladimir Putin is coming up on the end of his third. When he ran for his third term, he explained that his first term didn't count since it was served under the old constitution. This explanation appears to have been widely accepted because everybody reports that he is coming up on the end of his second term, not his third. (But I think it's funnier if you think of it as his third.)

Now it appears that the groundwork is being laid for Putin to run for his fourth term. Out of a maximum of two.

I'm not saying he does or doesn't deserve to be president for another term. (And he does say that he plans to step down, though he doesn't rule out the possibility of running again.) I'm just amused by the machinations involved in keeping him there.

Former Moscow bureau chief for the Globe and Mail Marc MacKinnon chimes in with his thoughts (much better informed than mine).

Comments (32)
  1. rdgb says:

    Didn’t he came to power in 2000 (when Eltsin (sp?)) resigned? Doesn’t look like three 4-year terms to me since then.

    [I didn’t say three four-year terms, just three terms. -Raymond]
  2. Elmo says:

    Which first term do you mean? The one that lasted 4 months from 12/31/99 till 5/7/2000? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_putin

    [Yes, that one. It wasn’t a long term, but a short term is still a term. -Raymond]
  3. Peripatetic says:

    "I’m not saying he does or doesn’t deserve to be president for another term."

    Raymond, I think that sentence just saved you from having to check everything you ingest with a Geiger counter for the remainder of your natural life. :)

  4. alex_ognev says:

    If you count first 4 month as a term that probably makes sence. However he was not elected for that term. I am not sure what Russian constitution says in this case. At least 4 years ago nobody counted those 4 month as a term.

  5. Mahendra says:

    <<[Yes, that one. It wasn’t a long term, but a short term is still a term. -Raymond>>

    I join others in disagreeing with you in this case. The first “term” wasn’t really a term – it’s more of a person acting in a temporary role while waiting for an election to take place. I wouldn’t count that against him.

    [Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good joke. (In the US, we consider filling out a predecessor’s incomplete term as the first term of the replacement.) -Raymond]
  6. Mahendra says:

    <<[Yes, that one. It wasn’t a long term, but a short term is still a term. -Raymond>>

    I join others in disagreeing with you in this case. The first "term" wasn’t really a term – it’s more of a person acting in a temporary role while waiting for an election to take place. I wouldn’t count that against him.

  7. grouse says:

    In the U.S., if you become President with less than two years left in your term (and it is still called a term&mdash;no one says that LBJ or Truman’s first terms are somehow not a term), you can be President for three terms "out of a maximum of two" in the same way.

  8. Wesha says:

    As somebody living in Russia at that time, I can tell you: during that "four month term", Putin was not officially considered President, but a "person temporarily performing the functions of  President", so it doesn’t officially count as full fledged presidency; a temporary substitute rather.

  9. h1techSlave says:

    Going by the same token, George Bush should be able to run for presidency again in 2008. In 2000 he was not elected by the people, but was selected by the Supreme court. Hence his first term should not count.

  10. C Gomez says:

    "you can be President for three terms ‘out of a maximum of two’ in the same way."

    Not exactly.  The US Constitution specifically provides for not being elected more than twice.  It doesn’t care about number of terms.  It merely provides that if you serve more than two years of a term someone else was elected to, then you can only be elected once.

    I still think Raymond makes a good point.  Whatever you want to call the first four months, there may be some engineering going on to get him a third full term.  This is a key distinction and an important time for Russia’s future.  George Washington purposefully stepped down to establish that no one should remain as Executive for life (as he would have won every election until he died).  The very idea of how long one is entitled to serve as Russia’s executive is at stake.  That is one of the many considerations he and the other Russian leaders should account for.

  11. wParam says:

    In the Netherlands, the prime minister is already on his 4th term. So far, all his cabinets have resigned. The cabinet before him resigned twice.

    Here’s the complete list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cabinets_of_the_Netherlands

  12. programmer says:

    Raymond, take a note, it is not the first campaign for constitution change, in order for Putin to be elected one more mandate. He so far declined it.

    Also I think he have so much influence and popularity in Russia, he can rule in shadow without to be the official president and he will do that in order to avoid critics.

    And as european, can I critic your system, where your presidents are chosen from so thin oligarchy, that they end being relatives of older presidents? Even i communist times none of the soviet leaders did have a family connection with other one.

  13. Anonymous says:

    presidents are chosen from so thin oligarchy, that they end being relatives of older presidents?

    Sounds like a (constitutional?) monarchy to me?..

  14. Maxim says:

    4 months from 12/31/99 till 5/7/2000 – is not first term, because Putin was not president at that time, he was prime minister but acting as a president.

  15. Marcel says:

    In Germany chancelor Helmut Kohl (there is a president but it is just a figurehead, the real power lies with the chancelor) served four terms in office (16 years) and actually tried to get elected for a fifth, but fortunatelly failed. People actually do get fed up eventually. Still I’d really love to see the constitution changed to limit this to 2 terms max!

  16. Rick C says:

    I see we have today’s person who doesn’t understand the Constitution, h1techSlave.  h1techSlave, for your edification, assuming you desire it, George Bush was elected according to the Constitution.  There’s this little thing called the Electoral College…

  17. This is old news. About every two-three months some high official, some party, or representatives of some region suggest making such changes to Constitution, mostly to demonstrate their loyalty to Putin, rather than to actually lay down some groundwork for Putin’s re-election.

    Mironov (head of upper house) is a hired clown. The "opposition" from Gryzlov (head of lower house, famous for quote "parliament is not a place for discussions") is another clown for hire, and his "opposition" clearly shows the message does not come from the top, and should not be considered seriously (this time).

    Of course, nobody doubts that if Putin does decide to take another term, he will easily pass these changes to Constitution. But everyone also understands that such decision should come from Putin or his closest circle (aka Mafia, if it were Italy), not from these clowns.

  18. mihailik says:

    You are nearly correct, michen.

    But there is also such a thing like public opinion. If Putin decided to for more terms, he obviously needed to do some preparations. And this clown games might be exactly this thing–the preparation of public opinion.

    That doesn’t mean external public opinion. Clowns like Gryzlov&Mironov are the instruments to operate internal affairs only. For external manipulation, I believe, they would do very different things. They would create smokescreen, fuss around something unrelated.

    They could ask Iran to seize some British ships. The could ask N.Korea to do something dangerous. They have some power to do it, and one cannot underestimate the will for power, when it comes to KGB.

  19. Maxim says:

    "They could ask Iran to seize some British ships. The could ask N.Korea to do something dangerous. They have some power to do it, and one cannot underestimate the will for power, when it comes to KGB."

    LOL

    And ask martians to conquer Earth:) Yes, they have power to do this:)

  20. Massif says:

    I thought he was going to run for the Prime Minister position after he couldn’t be president any more. (Or was that the other way around?)

    Scary stuff…

    Still, it’s nice to know his opposition is one of the finest tactical minds in the world – if you’re a chess piece.

  21. TravisO says:

    The Russian government has just announced 2 + 2 = 5, more to come!

  22. mihailik says:

    Look, Luzhkov goes by my theory.

  23. dude says:

    Putin served for 2 terms. Before that he spent a few months as a prime minister with no president above him (he resigned). So far, no problem here. If he stays for the 3rd term, it’s a breach of the law. All the references to Netherlands & US laws are completly irrelevant – Dutch and Americans don’t consider Russian laws when they elect their own officials. What is important is if the Russian law is broken or not. So far it isn’t. There’re talks about doing that, and that’s alarming.

  24. dude says:

    a followup:

    Back in the Yeltsin’s days even more people believed that Yeltsin would never step down yet he did. It doesn’t mean that Putin will do too, I’m just pointing out that words about keeping Putin in office are just words. So far.

  25. Ilia says:

    "served under the old constitution" ???

    Sorry, what constitution are you talking about?

    Russian constitution was adopted in 1993.

    Don’t you confuse Putin with somebody else http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Lukashenko ?

  26. Would you dare to read the Constitution of Russian Federation at http://www.constitution.ru/10003000/10003000-6.htm

    Articles 81.1, 81.3, 92.1, 92.2, 92.3.

    My translation (probably someone can fix it):

    92.1. President of the Russian Federation will take the office after taking the oath and leave the office at the end of his tenure since the moment of the oath taking of the newly elected President of the Russian Federation.

    92.2. President of the Russian Federation, leaves the office early in the event of his resignation, permanent inability of the health of his authority or removal from office. The election of the President of the Russian Federation to be held not later than three months from the early termination of office.

    92.3. Whenever the President of the Russian Federation is unable to perform his or her duties, they are temporarily exercised by the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation. The person acting as President of the Russian Federation do not have the rights to dissolve the State Duma, call a referendum, as well as to propose amendments and revision of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

    Putin was not a president from 01/2000 – 03/2000, but temporarily exercised the duties as a president.

  27. Sorry, but seems like a lot of Russian programmers are reading your blog ;-) Anyway, I think Putin would not accept any offers to go to the next term because he don’t want to touch a constitution, despite of numerous requests from the governors and other political forces.

  28. Funnily, russians reading this blog are protecting their government, which is good for the government :) As a matter of fact if referendum was called now to change the constitution for Putin re-election, I bet there would be positive voting for it. Majority supports Putin’s course even if it is not truly democratic in western sense of the word. I’ll hope the constitution will stay though.

  29. If not Putin, then who? Given that Ivanov and Medvedev haven’t made serious traction yet – and the "liberal" opposition is its usual shambles – my question is would the Kremlin really risk the upheaval of having Putin step aside, only to be followed by the great unknown?

    That said, Putin was an unknown when Yeltsin made him prime minister in 1999… a few interestingly timed detonations in the Moscow suburbs changed that.

  30. Lio says:

    Oh yeah, Romania:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_Iliescu#Constitution_violations

    (Forget all you think you know about the Romanian revolution)

    Love your blog, by the way (this is my 1st post).

  31. dude says:

    Mark MacKinnon

    Whatever buddy he wants to be a president. Elections will be rigged.

  32. maxim__s says:

    Raymond,

    to understand the Russian situation properly, you must know that there are no really attractive public political figures in Russia except Putin. No at all.

    So, if honest elections will go in 08, this will be a totally unpredictable game. A choice between, say, 5 equally bad and unpopular candidates is unpredictable. Even a very minor factor of noise can play.

    The Russian elite is probably dissatisfied with such unstability, and thus pushes Putin hard to continue the 3rd term (yes, 3rd, the rule from Dec 99 to Mar 00 was not the rule of the elected president, just a temporary figure) like Lukashenko did.

    Looks like Putin himself is not so willing to do this, but the ruling elite wants.

    More so. There is no need to make false elections. There is only a need to allow Putin to go to elections. He will won for sure, just because there are no other good (or even average) candidates.

    Future will show. I can even imagine some bad events in Russia before 08 election.

    regards,

    one more Russian MVP :)

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