Yeltsin and Russian History

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There would be no more elections for three years, until the Parliamentary elections of 1999. With the 1998 Russian Financial Crisis and given his old age, it was time for Yeltsin to go. His health had been an issue for years, but he had not been ready to name a successor. Prior to the election, Yeltsin fired his entire cabinet and two prime ministers, eventually landing on Vladimir Putin, who was relatively unknown at the time. After Putin swiftly shut down the Chechen terrorist attack and proclaimed that “Russian Army will chase down the terrorists”, his popularity exploded. In just one year he went from a 2% to 56% approval rate. Yeltsin promptly named Putin as his successor. [Treisman 02/24/14] This election cycle saw the rise of two new major Parties of Power, Unity (Putin’s Party) and Fatherland All Russia. Once again, thanks to continued economic struggles, the Communist Party won 25% of the seats. Unity came in 2nd, and Fatherland came in 3rd. Yabloko and LDP were not major parties in this cycle. Soon after the election, Yeltsin resigned from the Presidency at the end of 1999, making Putin president and calling for an election in three months’ time. [Treisman 02/24/14] In the 2000 President election, Putin beat Zyuganov by a large margin—53% to 30%, thanks largely to Putin’s recent popularity and his incumbency advantage. Yavlinsky and Zhirinovsky were non-factors in this election, coming in a distant 3rd and 4th. Putin’s quick response to the Second Chechen War showed him as a fearless leader that the Russian people respected and trusted to lead the nation into the new century.
By 2003, Putin and Unity had become the strongest political force in the short history of Russia’s political system. Thanks to three years of a ra...

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...ntury, a more liberal and progressive-minded social culture present in Russia, and international conflicts such as the ones in Chechnya, Georgia, and currently in Ukraine. During Yeltsin’s term, new parties sprung up each election, some as alliances and some as brand new parties. Since Putin’s first election, the Unity Party has dominated the political scene of Russia, but they do not have the staggering majorities they did in the previous decade. Still, it is difficult to predict what the course will be for Russia’s future elections. Will Putin and Unity continue to dominate, or will a new opposition party be able to take Putin out of power? Though the current situation makes it look like Putin is here to stay, we’ve seen that all it takes is a little bit of time for the sentiments of the Russian people to dramatically change.

Works Cited

The Economist, Treisman