At the beginning of 2021, a new electoral cycle began in Russia. Moreover, many experts underline that the situation is somewhat different from what it was in the past. This time, the election campaign before the State Duma election scheduled for September 2021 will be combined with the Presidential campaign of 2024 to some extent.
It is for this reason that, one way or another, most electoral processes will viewed as something highly interrelated, no matter how big the distance between them really is.
In this connection, there are more and more discussions about how the Kremlin is going to play the cards to ensure the victory of the United Russia party, in the first place, and after that of Vladimir Putin if he decides to use the amendments for resetting his terms of office to zero and to run for presidency again in 2024.
For example, there were numerous assumptions that on the eve of Election Day, United Russia, which will seek a slab of seats in the Duma in spite of dwindling popularity, might have to resort to the President’s assistance, as his popularity ratings remain the highest in the country despite all the current issues. With this "sad" bundle, it is going to get a constitutional majority.
However, according to political analyst Abbas Galliamov, this time the situation is somewhat different. Chances are Putin's high popularity ratings will not only be unhelpful for United Russia but the party itself will have a negative impact on Putin’s ratings.
Galliamov recalled that back in 1979, the Conservative party managed to win parliamentary elections in UK noticeably outperforming the Labour, although the the personal popularity rating of the Labour leader James Callaghan was significantly higher than that of his key Tory rival, Margaret Thatcher.
"The personal popularity of party’s leader Conservative did not help the ruling party escape defeat because voters decided that the policy content pursued by the authorities did not suit them anymore," Galliamov said.
According to him, the United Russia is highly likely to repeat the fate of Labour party at the time.
"It won't be possible to help United Russia during this election season, even by using Putin's popular image. Moreover, United Russia will bring Putin down if it tries to exploit his popularity ranking. On the other hand, Putin's own image has faded noticeably. To put it simply, right now, it is better not to use it for trifling things. It is one thing if a person decides not to vote for United Russia, and quite another thing if he or she withdraws support from the President who heads the party list. After all, he has to be the Russian President until 2024.
Perhaps, now, it makes sense for Vladimir Putin to consider anyone who suggests that he should head the United Russia list again before the State Duma election as a saboteur striving to turn him into a 'lame duck' without popularity mandate," Galliamov said.