Support For Western Style Democracy Falling In Russia – Poll

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

(RIA Novosti – February 9, 2013)

The number of supporters of the Soviet political system among Russians is growing, and the number of supporters of Western-style democracies is falling, Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported on 8 February, quoting an opinion poll carried out by Levada Centre.

According to political analysts, an increase in the number of supporters of the Soviet model comes amid reform of the current political system, which is no longer clear to some citizens, and in some aspects is considered to be inferior to the Soviet one. However, experts believe that the results of the survey reflect a fluctuation of public opinion, so it is too early to draw far-reaching conclusions.

According to the poll, the number of supporters of the pre-90s political system has increased by 7 per cent compared to 2012. Today, 36 per cent of Russians believe the Soviet system was the best, and in 2012 this view was held by 29 per cent. The present political system is supported by 17 per cent, whereas in 2012 it was supported by 20 per cent. The number of supporters of Western democracies has also dropped from 29 per cent in 2012 to today’s 22 per cent.

More than half of respondents, 51 per cent, believe that an economic model based on state planning and distribution is better (49 per cent said so in 2012). An economic system based on private property and market relations is supported by 29 per cent (36 per cent in 2012).

The poll was conducted among 1,600 people in 130 towns and villages in 45 Russian regions on 18-21 January

Situational fluctuations

Support for the Soviet political system is growing against the background of the current reform of the Russian political system, director of the Centre of the Political Environment in Russia Aleksey Zudin told RIA Novosti.

“The Russian political system is undergoing reform, and it is no longer clear to people, at least some of them. Uncertainty is growing, which scares some people. They feel the need for something familiar and stable … This is one of the reasons why the proportion of supporters of the Soviet system is slightly up,” Zudin said.

However, he said it was too early to make far-reaching conclusions on the basis of the opinion poll. “These are situational fluctuations,” he said.

The Soviet political system had several advantages over the present one, president of the National Strategy Institute Mikhail Remizov said.

“Maybe this is due to the fact that a substantial proportion of people have a feeling that we are going back to square one on some issues, to the Soviet model, but to a deficient version,” the analyst said.

According to Remizov, people appreciate another feature of the Soviet system, which is not working well currently, – feedback. Besides, compared to the Soviet times, the management system is closed to new staff.

“And what is more important is that the Soviet system was rather open, not in terms of transparency, but in the sense of openness to new staff, vertical and horizontal mobility. Today, in general, the management system of the ruling class is much more impenetrable than during the Soviet period,” he said.

False alternative

Commenting on the preferred economic system, Remizov pointed out that the alternative proposed by sociologists was artificial, since there is no contradiction between an economy based on private property and government planning.

“The pollsters created a false alternative, offering people a choice between a market economy and state planning… The results reflect public stereotypes, but they cannot be regarded as an appropriate and significant choice,” he said.

However, he believes that a 7-per-cent drop in support for market economy is a significant figure. “In my opinion, this is people’s reaction to the Russian economy’s slowdown, and news that the global economy is either going through a crisis, or is in a pre-crisis state. I think that the decline in verbal support for a pure market system is connected with these circumstances,” Zudin added.