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26 Feb, 2021 14:18

Stability or change? Russians split over whether Putin should stay on as president beyond 2024 after rule change allows fifth term

Stability or change? Russians split over whether Putin should stay on as president beyond 2024 after rule change allows fifth term

The clock is ticking on Vladimir Putin’s current presidential term, set to expire in 2024. Now, a new poll has found that almost half of Russians want him to stay on, while four in ten want the long-time leader to leave office.

The research, published by Moscow’s Levada Centre on Friday, found that of more than 1,600 people surveyed, 48 percent want to see Putin remain president past 2024, while around 41 percent do not. The pollster is registered as a foreign agent by the Russian Ministry of Justice over receipt of funding from overseas.

According to Levada, the numbers show a slight increase in those with definitive opinions on the subject, albeit within the margin of error, compared to an equivalent study last year in which 46 percent backed the veteran leader for another run at the top job. Then, 40 percent opposed the idea.

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A clear age gap is evident in the responses. Among those aged 55 and older, nearly six in ten of those surveyed wanted the president to stay on, compared to only around one in three of those aged 18 to 24.

For those who said they wanted Putin to remain past 2024, the most common reasoning was that it would be a recognition of his services to the country, or of his personal abilities, with 30 percent and 25 percent of respondents, respectively, pointing to those factors. Around one in five said it would be worth keeping him in charge because of his approach to foreign policy.

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Among detractors, on the other hand, the most frequent rationale was that after a combined 18 years at the helm, the president has been in power too long and there is a need for change. Domestic social problems were mentioned by 14 percent, and 11 percent cited the age of the 68-year-old ruler as a factor in their reasoning.

After a national vote on amendments to Russia’s constitution last year, rules that would have prevented Putin from seeking a third consecutive term were relaxed, leading to speculation he may run again. At the same time, provisions that guarantee former heads of state legal immunity for life and a seat in the country’s Senate were introduced, causing analysts to predict that he might be considering his retirement plan.

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