Yeltsin is 'dead duck'

August 4, 1995

President Yeltsin is a "dead duck president" says Matthew Wyman, who is researching elections and electoral change in Russia for Keele University's European Research Centre.

It is unlikely that the next presidential election will be fought on the ideological ground that proved to be so successful for Yeltsin in 1991, Dr Wyman argues.

He points to the emergence of powerful centre parties whose appeal lies in practical experience rather than any promise of quick solutions.

It is these groups, not the more talked about nationalist parties, that he considers to be the major threat to the president's position.

Although no other likely candidate is as well known nationally as Boris Yeltsin, the Russian electoral system, "bizarre" in Dr Wyman's view, leaves the door wide open for an unknown candidate to emerge.

"It is impossible to predict or even say anything sensible about the election result, other than Yeltsin won't win," he argues.

The presidential election consists of two separate rounds, with the two most popular candidates from the first round moving forward to the second. In this way it is possible for the eventual winner to have received as little as 15 per cent of the original vote.

The research study will concentrate on the regional diversification in both electoral dynamics and election results, with special reference to the influence of demographic and economic factors. It is built on work already done by Dr Wyman, in part with Glasgow University, which drew on the new evidence to be gained from opinion polls.

The planned research by Dr Wyman is also likely to address a number of other questions of direct relevance to the forthcoming elections. It will consider the change in the nature of support for Russia's "democrats", which has been steadily narrowing and is increasingly confined to industrial areas and large cities. It will also address the relationship between the emergence of Russian nationalism and the increasing tension in Russia's border areas.

Important areas of research are to include the study of opinion polls, party formation and the evolution of elite groups.

The study is sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust.

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