Why would Putin even bother barring Navalny from participating?

  • The BBC describes Navalny as Putin's main opposition rival (example article), despite the fact that he has rarely scored over 2% in opinion polls (at least two other opposition candidates score ≥6%). Navalny alleges that his candidacy rejection is politically motivated, but what political motivation would Putin have to bar a candidate with such an apparently low popularity from standing?

    This aged quite well for Belarus...

    @TheSimpliFire I'm confused. My question is about Russia, not Belarus, which is a different country with different circumstances.

    I know, I was just pointing out that a very possible mistake of Belarus' regime, unlike Russia's, was that they didn't prevent the opposition from participating; i.e. Russia is "playing safe," if you like.

    @TheSimpliFire Belarus **did** prevent the regular opposition from participating. Tsikhanouskaya only ran when her husband was blocked from doing so, and only with the promise to as soon as possible rerun election allowing the previously blocked opposition candidates.

    If you know you can't win the election. Just break the electoral law and then when you get barred from running, you blame the government. Standard CIA textbook procedure.

    @dan-klasson Can you expand on that?

  • Gramatik

    Gramatik Correct answer

    4 years ago

    The spin on Navalny

    For the question of why Navalny is labeled by western media as Putin's main opposition rival is an issue of framing. If you look at the two candidates who were ahead of Navalny last he was included in opinion polls on the link you provided - Zyuganov (now Grudinin) and Zhirinovsky, members of the Communist party and the populist-nationalist LDPR party respectively - both are older men from older established Russian parties (both have been around since the early 90s, contrasted with Navalny's party's inception in 2012) with ideologies the west doesn't care for so neither make for as good a story as Navalny

    Navalny is not the next most favored politically to rival Putin given opinion polls, but he is the strongest contrast to Putin of any of the potential candidates, having labeled Putin's United Russia party a Party of Crooks and Thieves and having organized several protests of corruption and current leadership. He is ideologically further from and more opposed to the current regime than the other greatest contenders.

    Reasons for barring Navalny

    As for why Putin would bother to bar him from the election, it is important to consider that it is not only this election cycle and presidential term that Putin is taking these actions in consideration of. Putin has sidestepped and even rewritten the Russian constitution to give himself more time in power. To believe that Putin will completely relinquish power over the country he will have led for 24 years only because it is legally ordained would be, I believe, naive. And so, the reasons Putin has barred Navalny would be more forward-facing than just this election.

    A strong reason would be to prevent this from turning into a slippery slope for Putin's power going forward. Navalny's party, the Progress Party, was created only in 2012 and has become quite prominent in a short time. Being very ideologically opposed to this party, Putin would not want to give any legitimacy to this party. Perhaps this election they only get 2% of the vote, but that means Navalny getting his message out for a whole election season, televised alongside the rest of the contenders. Navalny is young and charismatic, the next election would have the chance to be quite different.

    Another reason would be that Putin has a goal of what he calls 70 at 70, or 70% voter turnout with 70% voting for Putin. Part of maintaining the strongman image he has cultivated is by dominating any challenge. Anything that could be construed as weakness needs to be quashed. 70% of the vote is a lot, and any chip at that is significant. Barring someone from entry is an extreme move towards this end, but this is not the only reason Navalny is barred (see above).

    There could also be a personal reason: for many years Navalny has publicly called Putin a thief and even produces a set of imagery with this motto. Also, Navalny is known to have a wide support among underage schoolchildren, who may or may not continue supporting him as they grow up, and Putin may be trying to prevent the former (although barring him from elections seems to achieve exactly opposite result).

    @VasilyAlexeev I believe Zhirinovsky has called Putin, Obama and perhaps God himself a thief and worse during his famous parliament speeches. But I guess he's so cute when upset that nobody can stay angry with him.

    @DmitryGrigoryev no one takes seriously what Zhirinovsky says, even himself

    `Another reason would be that Putin has a goal of what he calls 70 at 70, or 70% voter turnout with 70% voting for Putin.` Interestingly enough, and counter-intuitively, this means only 49% of adult population actually voting for him.

    @Bregalad what do you mean by counter-intuitively and how did you get 49 from 70?

    @RS Because 0.7*0.7=0.49 ; If 70% of people votes and 70% of them votes for a candidate it means a short majority of people either didn't vote or voted for another candidate. It's counterintuitive because when we say 70% turnout and 70% of votes for a candidate, at first glance it sounds like there's massive support for that candidate.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM