Seventy-five percent of Russians polled said they would vote for current Russian President Vladimir Putin if elections were held Sunday, results of a survey conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Fund released Friday showed. The numbers showed a slight uptick in those favoring Putin in recent months, as polling six months ago indicated that 71 percent would vote for him, a Russian state news agency reported.
Leaders from other parties would receive much smaller portions of the hypothetical vote -- the next presidential election in Russia is planned for 2018. Four percent of the vote would go to the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, for instance, while the leaders of the parties A Just Russia and Civic Platform would take just 1 percent, according to the survey. The poll also said that a whopping 95 percent of those who said they would vote for Putin viewed him positively.
Some argue such results should be taken with a grain of salt. “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s popularity appears to resist the laws of political physics,” Christopher Walker, executive director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy, and Robert Orttung, assistant director of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the George Washington University’s Elliott School for International Affairs, wrote in an opinion article in the Washington Post in January, after Putin's approval ratings exceeded more than 80 percent despite serious economic troubles in the country.
“But the numbers should not be taken at face value,” Walker and Orttung cautioned, arguing that “today, the Kremlin must work far harder than it has to manufacture regime support” and that “the fear and opacity that shrouds the Russian system prevents our knowing the true extent of Putin’s popularity.”
Putin has not confirmed that he would run again in the next presidential elections in 2018, but he hasn’t ruled it out, either. In November, he told a Russian state news agency that for him to remain Russia's president was “not good, and [is] detrimental for the country, and I do not need it.” He then added that the Russian constitution did not forbid him from pursuing re-election. “I will proceed from the general context, domestic understanding and my personal feelings,” he said.
The Russian constitution states that the president can serve up to two consecutive terms before stepping down, the Wall Street Journal has reported. One presidential term is supposed to be six years. Putin first served as president from 2000 to 2008, at which point he then became prime minister. He ran for president again and won in 2012.
The survey polled 3,000 people from 204 towns and cities around Russia and had a margin of error of 3.3 percent.