Staunton, Nov. 25 – A close reading of recent polls suggests, Abbas Gallyamov says, that those who oppose the regime and those who support it are currently nearly equal in size but the latter is far more passionate and has the support of the Kremlin which is prepared to use repression to maintain itself in power, Abbas Gallyamov says.
According to the Moscow commentator who earlier worked as a Putin speechwriter, both the opposition and the supporters of the regime are each radically subdivided, something that in and of itself makes the current balance potentially unstable for the future (echo.msk.ru/blog/gallyamov_a/2941634-echo/).
About eight percent of the population are committed opposition figures, for whom politics is the defining core of their existence and for whom Putin is the enemy. About 15 percent more are part of what Gallyamov calls “the opposition periphery,” which includes people who are unhappy with the regime but for whom politics is not all consuming.
The third group may be called “the semi-opposition.” It makes up about 10 percent of the population and consists of people who aren’t happy about the quality of life and governance in Russia but who are indifferent to political repressions as long as they don’t become too widespread. They view Putin as a mixed figure rather than an unqualified mistake.
Such people, he continues, believe that it is entirely appropriate for the opposition to express its dissatisfaction with this or that policy but that any “serious” attempt to take power is impermissible, an attitude that represents an important asset for the regime as does the attitude of the quarter of the population that is largely indifferent to politics.
On the other side of the equation, among the backers of the powers that be, approximately 10 percent of Russian voters are anti-liberals who back repressions. Another 20 percent, “the power periphery,” support repressions as long as they don’t become too widespread and therefore “too much.”
And about ten percent of the voters could be called “’semi-loyalists,’” the Moscow commentator says. They support the regime because it is in power, but they could shift to the opposition if they believed that it had any chance to win. Thus, even at the extremes, ideology is largely irrelevant; reactions to the use of power are everything.
In Russia today, he continues, “a provisional balance, one that by all appearances is not very stable, has been established.” Neither side has a clear advantage in numbers. “the first are a little larger” but they are not united; and the latter is vastly more “passionate” in their feelings because those they support are clearly capable of wielding power.
“Under conditions of a repressive personalist regime, the role of ideology as of political markers is weakening,” Gallyamov says. “This is understandable: the only really significant ‘material’ factor here is power. Namely its actions define how society lives. Ideological considerations are becoming less significant, and attitudes toward the powers defining.”