Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Even Putin’s Traditional Electorate Increasingly Views Him as Ineffective, Nikolskaya Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 17 – It is an ancient observation that you can seldom win over your enemies but you can easily lose your friends.  That is what has been happening to Vladimir Putin during Russia’s current crisis, Moscow sociologist Anastasiya Nikolskaya says, with his base increasingly viewing him as unable to ensure the stability they crave.

            Overall, the scholar at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service says, the number of those who are completely confident in Putin’s effectiveness has fallen by 50 percent and the number who are more certain than not has fallen by even more, 67 percent (forumfreerussia.org/multimedia/video-ffr/2020-05-16/poterya-very-v-stabilnost/ffr/).

            But what is most striking, Nikolskaya continues, is that declines among the traditional electorate of Putin, the residents of rural areas and pensioners, have declined even more dramatically in both cases and now “are no different from the answers of any other social-demographic group.” 

            That means that Putin’s traditional means of ensuring himself support, playing to patriotism and support for traditions, are ever less effective, making it less likely that he can recover using his time-tested approaches. That may lead him to double down on these tactics in order to reverse his slide, but it may also prompt him to ignore the popular will even more.

            Either could plunge Russia into danger. If he doubles down, Putin may launch a new round of aggression abroad or use repression at home against selected class or ethnic groups to try to win back support. If the Kremlin leader decides to ignore the popular will altogether, he could act in ways that will create the very instability he has long pledged to stand against.

            In either case, “the lost of faith in stability” among not only the population as a whole but among Putin’s base is likely to be a turning point in his reign. Indeed, this shift away from Putin among Russians beyond the ring road may be the most important consequence of the pandemic and the economic crisis that country now faces.

No comments:

Post a Comment