German Press Review: Putin′s Victory Much Too Smooth? | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 08.12.2003
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German Press Review: Putin's Victory Much Too Smooth?

German newspapers on Monday dwelt on the pro-Kremlin majority in the Russian elections over the weekend and political turmoil in Hamburg after the ousting of a populist right-wing leader.

The Thüringer Allgemeine from eastern Germany wrote that Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t have to be wary of any surprises during Russia’s elections because he had developed what the paper called ‘a system of authoritarian democracy’ in his land to perfection. The elections have seen the defeat for the Communists, who have been a dominant force in the Duma for the past decade and were considered the greatest threat to the Kremlin, the paper added.

Putin’s hard-line policies against corruption and wealthy oligarchs has gone down well with voters according to the Düsseldorf-based Rheinische Post. The paper wrote that the clear success of the conservative pro-Kremlin United Russia Party gives it such political weight that it can make constitutional changes single-handedly. What is important, the daily said, was that the party’s victory clears the path for a possible third term in office for Putin. The paper questioned United Russia’s promise of democratic reform and added that the elections had been described by the Communists as ‘a shameful farce.’

Other German papers turned their attention to regional politics in Germany, namely the political drama in the city-state of Hamburg after controversial former Interior Minister, Ronald Schill was stripped of his powers as state chairman of his right-wing law and order party over the weekend. The move has plunged the governing coalition in Hamburg into crisis. Schill has now announced he will engage more in federal politics.

The Bonn-based General Anzeiger warned that loyalties made in politics, particularly those made by Ronald Schill, should be treated with caution.

The Frankfurter Neue Presse questioned the process of ‘self-laceration’ by populist parties as they group themselves around charismatic leaders. It warned that such parties do not last long in such haphazard coalitions because of conflicts between personalities.