Need for public agreement has ripened in Russia, expert report finds

Map of Russia

(Interfax – Moscow, April 4, 2013) For the first time in Russian history, the current situation in the country is such that it requires concluding a public agreement that entails a diffusion of power, an analytical report prepared by the Centre of Political Technologies foundation, commissioned by the Civic Initiatives Committee (CIC), has found.

“A ‘super-presidential’ republic should be replaced with a political system in which the parliament, the courts and the regional authorities will be independent within the framework of their constitutional powers. Such a state will be stronger, not weaker, than the current one: institutions strengthen the authorities, make them transparent and predictable and so legitimate in the eyes of the people,” the report distributed by the CIC says.

The authors of the report believe that “there are people in society who want to determine their future, and public desire for inertia-driven development is giving way to demand for democratization”.

“This requires the conclusion of a public agreement, for the first time in Russian history,” the report notes.

According to the foundation experts, a public agreement should also provide for a responsible opposition that could vie for power. “Russia needs a normal responsible opposition, which would have the opportunity to not only represent its interests in legislative and municipal bodies, but also have aspirations for positions of power. There is demand for a strong party that represents the interests of the middle class,” the report authors say.

Foundation experts believe that Russia is currently living through a transition period. “The aim of the report is to evaluate the stormy events of 2011-2012, the policies of the authorities and the way they were received by the public. It is also aims to contemplate the vector of Russia’s development, which is in a state of transition. But this ‘transit hall’ for Russia is the last one: if it does not find a way to move into a qualitatively new and modern state, it will face a rollback and degradation,” the researches say.

By their assessments, there is a demand for a European-type democracy among the greater share of the public. There is no sign of a “left turn” in Russian society: “13 per cent would like to see Russia’s future as Soviet-style “socialism”, which is not insignificant; 18 per cent see an “iron fist” authoritarian regime as the way out of the current situation, however most Russians (38 per cent) are most drawn to a democracy that is largely similar to European countries,” the authors say.

The conclusions in the report are based on sociological research conducted through focus groups in five Russian regions, 25 expert interview and a national poll commissioned by CIC, carried out by Levada Centre.