No. 117: Public Opinion Polls and Political Culture
Author(s): Ellen Carnaghan, Henry Hale
Editor(s): Stephen Aris, Aglaya Snetkov, Matthias Neumann, Robert Orttung, Jeronim Perovic, Heiko Pleines, Hans-Henning Schröder
Series: Russian Analytical Digest (RAD)
Publisher(s): Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich; Research Centre for East European Studies, University of Bremen; Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, George Washington University
Publication Year: 2012
This edition focuses on popular attitudes about democracy in Russia. In the first article, Ellen Carnaghan questions the assumption that high levels of popular support for Putin represent a public acceptance for a move toward greater autocracy. She argues that many surveys have underestimated the level of passive support for democracy among ordinary Russians, but also highlights that there is little willingness to engage in political action. In the second article, Henry E. Hale compares the 2008 and 2012 Russian Election Studies (RES) surveys in order to assess whether the recent large-scale protests signal a democratic awakening in Russia as some have claimed. He argues that the 2012 survey reveals little evidence of an awakening and suggests that the level of support for democracy is similar to that in 2008, and that the "democracy" that many Russians tend to support is fully compatible with a "strong leader" who rules without checks and balances.