Dmitry Medvedev gives his first annual state of the nation speech, and announces that he’d like to extend the Russian Presidential term from 4 to 6 years. So what does the world’s press write about?
That Russia plans to deploy missiles close to the EU’s border to neutralise the US missile shield. Oh, and that Russia blames America for the war in Georgia.
I know plans for constitutional reform aren’t as sexy as phallic lumps of metal, but I’m baffled at how the world’s media can so spectacularly miss the importance of this. Especially on today, the day that US Presidential politics is reinvigorated by Obama’s election. Sureyly it doesn’t take much imagination for a journalist to draw some parallels between a US democracy that’s on the up, and a Russian democracy that’s on the way down.
How Medvedev’s plan to extend the Russian Presidency from a 4 to a 6 year term could be anything but bad news for Russian democracy is a mystery to me. Seriously – what actual benefits would a six year long Presidency bring over a four year long Presidency? None.
The only reason for doing this is to reduce the need for elections.
Oh, and possibly to ensure that Putin has the option to serve 12 more years as President, if he wants to.
Looking on the bright side though, Medvedev did also announce plans to reduce the threshold for entry into Russia’s parliament from the current 7%. I hope this will go some way towards re-energising Russian politics, but the cynic in me wonders if this is just a devious plan to give small parties like Yabloko an incentive to stay small and squabbling, rather than to see sense and merge.