If all goes as planned next week, Vladimir Putin will be on a glide path to serve as Russia’s perpetual president. On July 1, Russia will hold a national referendum on a proposed package of changes to its constitution that many predict will essentially pave the way for Putin to run for office again after his current six-year presidential term expires in 2024.
In theory, the proposed changes—which will, among other things, “reset the clock” on the current constitutional limit of two consecutive presidential terms—mean Putin could win two more elections and remain in power until 2036. If he does, he would be 84 years old by the time he stepped down and would have outstripped the tenure of the Kremlin’s last iron-fisted leader for life, Joseph Stalin, by about seven years.
In practice, however, there’s no guarantee Putin will be able to last that long politically in the event the vote next week goes his way and he is eventually reelected.