Russian Public Assessments of the Putin Policy Program: Achievements and Challenges

in Russian Politics
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Attention is given to Russian public assessments of President Vladimir Putin, important political actors of the Putin period, and major policy areas that are at the heart of the governing Putin team’s programmatic agenda (as of the second Putin presidency, 2012–18). The intention is (1) to assess the level of support for President Putin, key political actors comprising the Putin team, other governmental institutions and a leading rival, (2) to determine the level of congruence between the preferences of the Putin team and the Russian public regarding major policies intended to strengthen the Russian state and to modernize the Russian society, and (3) to evaluate Russian public assessments of the work of the Putin team in actually addressing these overriding goals. It is found that Russians’ positive assessment of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s paramount leader, is juxtaposed with more middling assessments of all other actors, excepting opposition figure Aleksei Navalny, who is poorly viewed. A strong congruence is found between the Putin team’s policy priorities and those of the Russian public, but public assessments of the Putin team’s performance across specific policies are mixed and reveal areas where that team has been both successful and come up short. Results of the October 2014 romir public opinion survey indicate that Putin and his team are well-positioned and that their overall policy performance is acceptable, but policy soft spots and points of concern are revealed: this suggests continuing challenges for the Putin team in delivering a program accommodating the preferences of an aware domestic public. It is argued that Putin’s position as a paramount leader redounds to his governing team’s advantage, but this position also represents a profound dilemma for the Russian political system.




 See Matthijs Bogaards, “How to classify hybrid regimes? Defective democracy and electoral authoritarianism”, Democratization 16, no. 2 (2009): 399–424, and Jason Brownlee, “Portents of Pluralism: How Hybrid Regimes Affect Democratic Transitions,” American Journal of Political Science 53, 3 (2009): 515–32.


 See Michael K. Miller, “Elections, Information, and Policy Responsiveness in Autocratic Regimes”, Comparative Political Studies 48, no. 6 (2015): 691–727.


 See Richard Sakwa, The Crisis of Russian Democracy: The Dual State, Factionalism, and the Medvedev Succession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), and Marie Mendras, Russian Politics: The Paradox of a Weak State (n.y.: Columbia University Press, 2012).


Having arisen only in 2011, the All-Russian People’s Front is relatively new to the political scene, and arguably less well known and appreciated, though its involvement in local matters – including its role in the formation of the “immortal regiments” (“bessmertnyi polk”) in numerous locations for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War ii (May 9, 2015) – could eventually enhance its public standing.


 See Graeme Gill, Building an Authoritarian Policy: Russia in post-Soviet Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), for an especially trenchant discussion of future system challenges stemming from Putin’s dominating leadership position.


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