Vladimir Putin has arranged Russian politics so that the president — his current position — can wield almost unlimited power in the Russian Federation. How inconvenient it is that the Russian constitution limits Putin to two four-year terms, the second of which Putin is now completing! Fortunately for the former spy chief, one of his minions has called for a change in the basic law that will allow Putin to rule as long as he likes:
One of Russia’s most senior politicians called yesterday for changes to the constitution to allow Vladimir Putin to run for a third term as President.
Less than a year before the presidential election, Sergei Mironov demanded the abolition of the two-term limit that prevents Mr Putin from standing. He also proposed extending the term from four years to five or even seven. Mr Mironov spoke out after senators reelected him by 156-0 as Speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, after regional elections.
He described Mr Putin as a guarantee of stability, and said that he was voicing the demand of millions of voters. Mr Mironov urged provincial legislatures to consider the proposal over the next two months.
Such a change “should be debated in light of the possibility, and maybe also the need, for Vladimir Putin to have the legal and constitutional possibility to remain President for one more term”, he said. “The final decision, of course, will be up to Vladimir Putin. Maybe he will listen to the voice of the lawmakers.”
With approval ratings close to 80 per cent, Mr Putin would easily win the election on March 2 next year. He has insisted repeatedly that he would not change the constitution to allow himself a third term, yet has left open the prospect of responding to public demand to stay on. He said on television in the autumn that “although I like my job, the constitution gives me no right to run for a third term”.
As long as the Russian toadies of Putin want to change the constitution, they should ensure that they address all of the outstanding issues. They should do away with the popular elections, since the pollsters have such a great handle on Putin’s popularity. Perhaps they should change the name of the office itself, since “president” implies a head of state that responds to a legislature with some power. What Russian term would adequately describe the office that Putin has created?
Ah — I’ve got it! They can call it “tsar”. That should do nicely.