Legitimacy and Societal Consent under Putin’s Leadership: State Capacity and National Identity

In: Russian Politics
Suzanne Loftus Professor of National Security, Faculty of the College of International and Security Studies, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany

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The system of informal governance, despite its weak performance in many international comparative governance indicators, turned Russia around in the early 2000s, and keeps the country functioning despite evidence of endemic corruption or economic stagnation. Despite increasing authoritarianism, the regime has the consent of the governed and is considered legitimate inside Russia. Despite what many scholars have argued on the long-term prospects of the survival of the regime, the Russian political system has demonstrated resilience and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Legitimacy of the regime is based both on state capacity and state national identity. The former is an entity of the latter along with a strong and unique international standing. The post-Soviet national identity that took shape while Putin has been in power has allowed for positive “national self-esteem” to flourish throughout the country. The mentality of the general population has allowed the space necessary for this narrative to evolve and for the post-Soviet identity to take shape, exhibited by the symbiotic relationship between elite action and popular support.

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