Russia's pre-election front is quieter than only a month ago, making a full-scale political and information war less likely than analysts predicted.
Recent months saw analysts discussing several possible scenarios that could heighten political tension over the election period.
Hypotheses ranged from a Communist election comeback, a panicking Kremlin introducing a state of emergency, Y2K disruption of New Year election result counting and the possibility that President Boris Yeltsin could step down in January, handing over power to the prime minister who would then call new elections.
But these scenarios, all based on confrontations between political forces, have been upset by recent signs of a consensus emerging between the different branches of power.
One indication of the change came when Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) leaders Yury Luzhkov and Yevgeny Primakov, and Zhirinovsky Bloc leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky expressed their support for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and their willingness to cooperate with him.
Primakov's loyalty to Putin is logical. Primakov's own appointment as prime minister last year was interpreted by some as a coup for the intelligence services. The implication was that there would be men in uniform running the show, shooting in the streets and a clear change of regime.
But this proved not to be the case. True, much power is now in the hands of men from the security ministries, but recent reforms have brought fresh blood into these same ministries and services, modernizing them and setting new strategies in their work.
They now operate more smoothly and are more involved in the country's life - having a hand in everything from investigating company activities, to the war in Chechnya. The increased involvement has a positive side - it makes the political authorities' behavior easier to predict.
If people from the security ministries have such power concentrated in their hands, then what do they have to fear from the elections? The army and other security forces are under their control. Only the prosecutor's office is in a more ambiguous situation. Any real upset to the present balance of power therefore looks all the more unlikely. The Kremlin, OVR, the Union of Right-Wing Forces and Yabloko are all lined up against the Communists.
Politicians generally opt for confrontation only when their projects appear to be under threat. But as threats fade, consolidation rather than confrontation becomes the order of the day. That is precisely what Russia's politicians are doing now - consolidating, dividing up whatever can be divided and settling on a mutually acceptable consensus.