- The party associated most closely with Russian President Vladimir Putin has lost support.
- A new pension policy, fronted by Putin, has angered may Russian voters.
- One forecaster has suggested new bases of power could spring up away from the Kremlin.By
Russia’s main political party performed poorly in September’s local elections, losing out in four regional governor run-offs.
While not directly connected to President Vladimir Putin, United Russia (UR) is the ruling party of the Russian Federation and holds the most seats in the country’s parliament, the State Duma. UR supports the president’s policies and is chaired by Putin ally and prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.
But, as the local elections revealed, the party is losing public support that it once enjoyed.
“People [in Russia] are starting to be aware more that their standard of living has gone backwards relative to 2014,” Daragh McDowell, the principal analyst for Europe and Central Asia at Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC on Wednesday.
McDowell said an ongoing sense that living standards have been slipping was enough to spark real anger when the Russian government announced changes to retirement ages earlier this year.
On Wednesday, Putin signed into law a bill that raised the retirement age for women from 55 to 60, and from 60 to 65 for men. In a country where the average life expectancy for a man is only 67, the decision has led to street protests.
McDowell said Putin himself had been forced to throw his weight behind the changes.
“There has been a political calculation that he is still the most popular politician in Russia, still the most influential, and he has to carry this ball over the line. But it is burning up a lot of his political capital,” McDowell said.
The analyst added that until now United Russia and Putin were viewed as “semi-detached,” but now they are linked in the public imagination as jointly driving an austerity policy.