Announcement of constitutional reforms, unexpected resignation of the government … Russian politics experienced an earthquake on Wednesday January 15. It all started with the President’s address to the nation at midday.
Faced with members of parliament and the political elite, this great meeting of the head of the Kremlin, usually in March, had surprisingly been advanced. After speaking about the country’s demographic crisis, Vladimir Putin took the course assistance, proposing a comprehensive constitutional reform to increase the powers of parliament and the Prime Minister.
“Russia is ripe”
The reform plans to give parliament the prerogative to elect the head of government when the Duma (lower house) currently ratifies the choice of president. For Vladimir Putin, it’s “A significant change”. “Russia is ripe”, he said, to move to a more parliamentary regime. Vladimir Putin insisted that this reform, including other measures, be put to a vote, possibly a referendum.
“A small step” towards more representative democracy, commented Alexei Kudrin, his former finance minister. This economist has long advocated far-reaching reforms. Regularly, he is cited as a possible successor to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Specifically, shortly after the end of his speech, Vladimir Putin received his head of government in his office. A well-staged meeting for another surprising decision: the resignation of Medvedev. “We have to empower the president to take whatever action is necessary”, explained the latter, adding that the decision to bring “Fundamental changes to the constitution” means reforms to modify “The balance of power” executive, legislative and judicial.
“Now everything could go quickly”
Vladimir Putin, however, did not give a timetable for these reforms. But with the resignation of the government, everything accelerated. “And now everything could go fast, warns political scientist Fyodor Krasheninnikov. Because behind the democratic facade, it is first a question of organizing the maintenance of Putin in power for long “
Re-elected in 2018, the 67-year-old Russian president must leave the Kremlin in 2024, at the end of his current mandate. “If, after the proposed reform, the Prime Minister’s role is strengthened, there is nothing to prevent him from occupying this post. With, in addition, popular support for the parliamentary vote ”, considers the political scientist Dmitri Orechkin.
Among the other changes announced is the strengthening of the Council of State. “In the new construction, the head of this strengthened Council of State could find himself, in fact, above everything, the Prime Minister and the President. A tailor-made position for … Poutine? “asks Andrei Kolesnikov, a political scientist at the Carnegie center.
“Putin, this is a real black box …”, ironically this high European diplomat in Moscow in front of the multiple tracks launched in recent weeks by Vladimir Poutine on his projects. While rumors run about the presumed weariness of the president and possible health problems, this announced reform could be only one piece of a puzzle orchestrating the continuation of what, at the end of his presidential mandate in 2024 , will already mark a quarter of a century in power.