No Heir Apparent? Putin’s latest push foreshadows a weaker head of government

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MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed to amend the Constitution of the Russian Federation, according to which the State Duma of the Russian Federation will be empowered to approve the Prime Minister. The head of state said this in his Address to the Federal Assembly today, January 15.

According to the proposed constitutional changes, on the proposal of the Prime Minister, the State Duma should approve the candidacies of deputy prime ministers and ministers, and “the president will be required to appoint them,” Putin continued.

These changes will enhance the role and importance of parliament, that is, the State Duma of the country, parliamentary parties, the president is sure. This will increase the responsibility of Cabinet members, optimize the interaction between the branches of government.

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These seem to indicate that so far, Putin has not found a successor who can be entrusted with wielding the level of executive authority which Putin now finds himself burdened and obligated with the responsibility of. These changes would make a weaker Prime Minister more beholden to the State Duma, and with less executive power in creating the cabinet.

Whoever ultimately replaces Putin as either head of government or head of state, would otherwise inherit the particular authority and set of responsibilities that Putin now has. By devolving power to broader institutions like the Duma, the popular inertia of Putin’s legacy as supported by Duma representatives, through hundreds of elections nation-wide, would have the power to check any possible reversals by an incoming administration which could threaten Russia’s progress and stability enjoyed during Putin’s administrations to date.

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