Russian President Vladimir Putin will win the election – that’s a given. He maintains the overwhelming support of the Russian people, while the state has kicked his main opponent out of the race and sanctioned other candidates in the running.
The outcome is so deeply etched in stone, even Putin himself seems bored. His campaign has been woefully lackluster.
But on March 18, there will be one thing for the President to worry about: Turnout. It could be embarrassingly low, some polls suggest, and could raise questions about the legitimacy of Putin’s long-running authority.
Does turnout matter?
Putin is seeking a second consecutive term as president – a fourth altogether – to cement his power.
Without real opposition, the 65-year-old veteran leader has provided little vision for the next six years and is expected to skip televised election debates, which he has snubbed many times in previous votes.
But those decisions may have ramifications this time around. The problem with an election that doesn’t look like one is that it’s very difficult to get voters excited about it. With not even a chance of a surprise result, Putin is now battling voter apathy.
Putin’s main political opponent, Alexei Navalny – who has been banned from contesting the election – has campaigned for a boycott. Legions of young Russians tend to listen to him.