BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2018/12

Russia’s sitting president garnered 77 % of the national vote last Sunday (Mar. 18), while his regional performances ranged from 65 % in Russia’s Far East regions to over 90 % in the republics of Southern Russia. Putin took 71 % of the vote in Moscow and 75 % in St. Petersburg. Voter turnout was nearly 68 %, slightly higher than in the 2012 presidential election.

No major changes are expected for the main lines of economic policy as a result of the election. In principle, the results give the president a strong mandate that could enable realization of difficult, but badly needed, structural reforms of the Russian economy. In reality, most observers expect the administration to interpret the election results as an endorsement of current policies and thus allowing to ignore the reform agenda. The composition of the new government should be announced in early May after Putin’s inauguration ceremony.

After the election results became clear, Putin proclaimed that the central issues of his next term would be economic growth and securing the country’s defence capabilities. The comments were in line with his platform speech earlier this month. Putin called already last week on the presidential administration to prepare new executive decrees on national goals for the upcoming six years. These included e.g. reducing poverty by half and making Russia the world’s fifth-largest economy. Putin issued similar decrees in the beginning of his current term, but most of those goals (e.g. substantial productivity gains and increased job-creation in high-technology sectors) have failed to materialise.