Putin and Medvedev: Teammates or Rivals?

Vladimir Putin’s decision to serve as prime minister should Dmitri Medvedev become Russia’s next president has made their electoral success in March a virtual certainty, while raising serious questions about who will really be in charge. But their power tandem could produce more effective governance than many expect.

Vladimir Putin’s decision to serve as prime minister should Dmitri Medvedev become Russia’s next president has made their electoral success in March a virtual certainty. Although the Communist Party’s leader, Gennadi Zyuganov, and the Liberal Democrats’ Vladimir Zhirinovsky are running – in contrast to 2004, when they fielded stand-ins – neither will get more than 15% of the vote. Even assuming that Mikhail Kasyanov, Boris Nemtsov, and Democratic Party leader Andrei Bogdanov somehow collect two million signatures each to get on the ballot, the outcome will be the same. Indeed, so far, none of them has more than 2% popular support.

But, while Medvedev’s victory in the first round of voting appears assured, the important questions will arise after the ballots are counted. How will power be distributed between Medvedev and Putin? Who will be in charge? Will Russia have to rewrite its laws and Constitution to give the prime minister more official power? Is Putin risking his political future by accepting a formally secondary role and making himself accountable for all socio-economic policy?

Russia’s Constitution does not allow for a “technical presidency.” The head of state has extensive powers, which alone indicates that Medvedev will be a strong president. Moreover, Medvedev is a strong-willed politician and very experienced administrator.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in

  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now