Putin warns against possible poll run-off

2012-02-01 22:43

Moscow - Russian strongman Vladimir Putin on Wednesday acknowledged he could fail to score an outright victory in March presidential polls but warned any second round risked sparking political instability.

Putin, who is seeking a historic third Kremlin term in March 4 presidential elections after his four-year stint as prime minister, has never before needed a run-off but is now being challenged by an upsurge of popular protests.

"I understand that a second round run-off is possible, according to the current legislation," Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying at a meeting with young lawyers and future election observers.

"I also understand - and I think you do too - that a run-off would unavoidably be linked to the continuation of a struggle and the destabilisation of the political situation."

"But there's nothing scary about it. I am ready for that, to work in the second round, if need be."

Putin is wrestling with the acutest legitimacy crisis of his 12-year rule after he announced in September his plan to seek a third Kremlin term in a job swap with incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev.

His approval ratings have dropped to the extent that he may not poll 50% in the March 4 first round, forcing him to take part in a run-off three weeks later for the first time, a humiliating prospect for a leader used to sky-high ratings.

During a second round run-off, Putin would likely have to square off against veteran Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, his nearest challenger in the presidential race.

In 1996, Zyuganov forced the then president Boris Yeltsin into a run-off, sending a scare across the country that Russia would go back to its Communist past.

No anti-Kremlin candidate

Analysts said an unpredictable second round hardly suited Putin and his comments appeared aimed at convincing Russians that the elections were legitimate while rattling them with the spectre of instability.

"He absolutely does not need a second round and I think it will not happen. But he needs people to think that the outcome of the election has not been pre-determined," said Nikolai Petrov, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Centre.

A recent poll by the independent Levada Centre predicted Putin would win in the first round of the vote but other recent surveys have given him lower ratings, with many Russians unsure how they will vote.

Besides Zyuganov, three other candidates will challenge Putin in the polls: Sergei Mironov of populist party A Just Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

The only genuinely anti-Kremlin candidate - veteran politician Grigory Yavlinsky of the liberal Yabloko party - has been excluded from the race in a move seen as dealing a blow to the legitimacy of the election.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to march through Moscow in a rally organised by the nascent protest movement on Saturday, a third major anti-Putin protest since fraud-tainted December parliamentary polls.

Activists from the opposition movement Solidarnost (Solidarity) earlier on Wednesday briefly put up a huge banner on a building opposite the Kremlin that said "Putin - leave" and showed his face crossed out.

But Putin sought to indicate that he would not make the mistake of the Arab leaders ousted in the Arab Spring by clinging on to power at all costs if his support slipped away.

"I do not want to work and will not work if there is not support. There is no sense. Then different people should try and do better," he said in televised remarks.

Read more on:    dmitry medvedev  |  vladimir putin  |  russia  |  russia elections

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Canon EOS 600D

The Canon EOS 600D Digital Camera puts the widely respected...

From R5389.95

I'm shopping for:


Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.