Since 2008, Russian presidents are directly elected to a six-year term and are limited to serving a maximum of two.
The Russian president is elected in a two round system. The first round (March 18) features all registered candidates on the ballot. If no candidate reaches a majority of votes, the second round takes place three weeks later and is a run-off between the two candidates with the highest vote.
Political parties with representation in the Duma (Russian parliament) are free to nominate a candidate to run. Registered political parties with no national representation must collect 100,000 signatures to nominate a candidate. There are currently sixty-seven registered parties, who have the right to nominate a candidate. Meanwhile, independent candidates need 300,000 signatures, with at least 7,500 from each federal district.
The election campaign officially begins when the resolution is approved by the Duma’s upper house; this happened December 15 2017. Once approved, all parties have twenty-five days to register their nominees, who must submit the required documents. These include identification, bank statements, registered property abroad and information of any criminal convictions.
For the 2018 election, twenty-three candidates have so far expressed interest in running. The most notable candidates will be incumbent, Vladimir Putin, Pavel Grudinin (Communist), Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democrat), Grigory Yavlinsky (Yabloko) and Ksenia Sobchak (Civic Platform).
Although President Putin has previously been a member and leader of the largest political party, United Russia, he is running as an independent. However, his candidacy has been endorsed by several political parties, including United Russia and two other parties with national representation. These are “A Just Russia” and “Rodina”, who will not nominate their own candidates.
An unwritten rule is that sitting presidents are not members of any political party, including that which nominated them. No Russian president to date has been a member of a political party whilst in office.
The ballot paper will be finalised in February 2018 with all the candidates listed in alphabetical order. Russians also have an option to vote for ‘none of the above’. Voting is not compulsory for any Russian election.
In accordance with Russian law, the media begins proper coverage twenty-eight days before Election Day. Registered candidates may have free airtime on all national and local state-run TV channels. There will also be televised debates and special election programs.
Candidates who work in municipal or civil service jobs must take annual leave until the election is over.
On Election Day, voting lasts until 8.00 pm local time across eleven time zones at 96,000 polling stations. The electoral commission then counts the ballots with international observers watching the process. The results will be uploaded onto a voting count system called GAS Vybory.
More than 110 million Russians are eligible to vote in 2018. The average turnout in previous presidential elections was 68.6%.
 Federal Districts are groupings of several Federal Subjects of the Russian Federation. They exist for the convenience of governing and carrying out orders from the Presidential Administration, and have no constitutional provisions.