Commentary: National Leadership Needs Term Limits

Vladimir Putin has been president of Russia for almost as long as I have been alive. He has served for 14 years so far, and has just won another sixyear term. Three fourths of the ballots have been counted and Putin leads with 76.1 percent of the votes in his favor, according to “The Wall Street Journal.”

Supposing he completes this new term, Putin will have 20 years of presidency under his belt. While keeping a beloved and well-performing candidate is understandable, I believe Russia would be better off electing a new leader. Unfortunately, Russia does not have a legal limit to how many terms a president can serve.

Russia is not the only country with this problem; several other countries, including China, India, Italy, and Germany do not set term limits for the national leader. But they should. Setting presidential terms facilitates countries’ development because new leaders focus on accomplishing different goals, and underperforming presidents can only hold office for a limited time.

Euromaidan Press gathered the accomplishments and failures from Putin’s presidency as reported by Russian citizens. People in Russia appear to feel that Putin has strengthened ties with other Eastern countries and raised the country’s international standing, in addition to fighting crime. They also mention, however, that some of his greatest failures have been stalling economic growth, neglecting to improve the standard of living, and worsening ties with Western countries. Sure enough, from 2016 to 2017, the percentage of Americans who supported limiting relations with Russia grew from 39 percent to 53 percent, according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Putin clearly prioritizes improving the military but falls short in other areas. Regularly bringing in new leaders allows for more diverse agendas, which inspire policy change. Changing up the leadership in Russia would enable more widespread development.

Setting term limits for presidencies also guarantees long-term change because it restricts the tenure of underperforming candidates. President George W. Bush, for example, promised to decrease the costs of healthcare and increase access. However, the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund states that during Bush’s presidency, the price of healthcare increased an average of 12.5 percent, and that an additional four million people became uninsured during Bush’s first two years in office. Bush also promised to lower the national debt to “historically low levels.” After his presidency, the national debt skyrocketed to an all time high, according to CAP.

In the United States, presidents hold office for a maximum of eight years. After Bush’s eight years, Barack Obama was elected. He implemented the Affordable Care Act, which gave insurance to over 10 million people, according to CNNMoney. Electing a new president allowed the number of insured people to increase since Bush’s candidacy.

Setting term limits for national leaders allows a wide range of ideas to be represented. Vladimir Putin should not be entering his fourth term as president. I hope that in the near future, countries like Russia, Italy, and India will implement new laws to prevent 20-year presidencies and maximize progress.

Ava Long is a Junior from Belmont, Mass. Contact the author at