As expected, PM Vladimir Putin managed to win the presidential race in the first round. Claiming about 64% of the votes cast, he won by a large margin. His victory is however tainted by widespread irregularities during the vote counting process and the absence of any real opposition. Though the election was followed by street protests, these were not as widespread or as large- scale as the manifestations seen following December’s rigged parliamentary elections.

Impact on country risk

Despite his clear victory and the seemingly abated protests, Mr Putin and his team face difficult times. Under much closer scrutiny than during his previous tenures (2000-2008), he will have to proceed prudently though at the same time enact decisive reforms if he wants to avoid political and economic stagnation. The awakening population no longer accepts the window-dressing elections of the past so that serious political liberalisation will be needed in order to avoid frustration to grow further and eventually become uncontrollable. Loosening control will be hard however, as it runs contrary to elite interests – and habits – and even risks triggering the utter collapse of Putin’s political system. At the same time economic matters are complicating things for the former and future president. Delivering on the electoral promises made to key constituents such as pensioners and the military will further weaken the budgetary position and leave it heavily exposed to oil price corrections. Uncertainty is thus in no short supply. For a detailed analysis of Russia, see our January assessment on the country, available on our website.

Analyst: The Risk Management Team, p.dellafaille@credendogroup.com