Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump have the same problem, they have squandered their credibility. They both appear clever because by chance they have spent a lifetime getting away with things that have brought down others long ago, and they lied about them. They get away with it because the audacity catches everyone off guard. However, the lesson of Trump’s first months in office is that, once most people catch on, it is harder to pull off the next audacious stunt. Trump’s agenda from health care to that wall is stalled. Putin has had a longer run in public office but is having trouble with his agenda, too — from lifting oil prices to lifting sanctions. Now that everyone has caught on to Russia’s election interference and propaganda, Putin’s audacious stunts, despite much hand wringing by his victims, are harder to pull off without a substantial reaction in response. Local elections held in Russia on Sept. 10 fit the pattern and spell possible trouble for next year’s presidential election that Putin is currently expected to win handedly. On Sept. 10, Putin’s United Russia party swept local elections in the 16 Regions where elections took place, including in Sevastopol in Crimea seized by Russia from Ukraine in 2014. However, opposition candidates in Moscow made surprising gains.
As reported by RFE/RL, United Russia took about 77 percent of the contested seats in Moscow while opposition parties took the remaining 23 percent, putting them on track to “ win a majority of seats in 14 of the more than 100 administrative districts of the capital.” A modest but significant gain for the political opposition in a key region.
Some commentators have made much of this success, arguing that it shows Putin’s declining popularity among the important Moscow electorate. Others conclude it is a ploy by Putin to give the appearance of plurality and vent some of the pressure from alternatives to United Russia before next year’s presidential election.
Full Article: Putin’s Trump moment | TheHill.