Flamboyant nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose party came a strong third in Russia’s parliamentary elections, announced today that he will run for president in March.
“I hope to get not lower than the second place,” Zhirinovsky told a news conference, punctuating his comments with frenetic gestures that have become his "Mad Vlad" trademarks since he burst on to Russia’s political scene after the 1991 Soviet collapse.
Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, or LDPR, won 11.6% of the votes on the nationwide ballot in Sunday’s elections to the State Duma, Russia’s lower parliament house, according to preliminary results.
Despite his fiery nationalist rhetoric, Zhirinovsky’s party has tended to back the Kremlin line in key Duma votes, and its success in the elections is likely to add to President Vladimir Putin’s influence over parliament.
Zhirinovsky presented a six-year plan for his party that calls for the establishment of an “authoritarian regime” in Russia and for specific changes that would increase the power of the president.
It would merge Russia’s 89 regions into 15 provinces with leaders directly appointed by the president and would do away with what it called the “irrelevant” Federation Council, the upper parliament.
Zhirinovsky ran for president in 1996 and 2000.