Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Instead of free and fair elections, let's have a call-in show

Over the past few years, Russian President Putin has been able to display his patience, stamina, and charisma in hours-long call-in television shows.

The shows are carefully orchestrated, and they are wonderful public relations. It might make Russians wish they'd voted for Putin.

Putin the problem-solver: Russian leader's annual TV phone-in marathon
Former government ministers, hunger striking construction workers and a British farmer called John have all been given an audience with Vladimir Putin as the Russian president put in a performance of characteristic stamina in his latest carefully choreographed televisual marathon…

The Russian president’s phone-in session with the nation has become an annual tradition, with questions coming from audience members in the studio and phone calls from around the country.
Putin and moderators
Economic themes dominated the discussion, with foreign policy and the war in Ukraine taking a back seat…

The organisers said there had been over 3m questions received by telephone, video message and email. However, the vast majority of those that made it on air were carefully screened and often came via correspondents sent out to the field…

On international affairs, Putin was reasonably conciliatory. Answering a question about a boycott of celebrations for the 70th anniversary of victory in the second world war this May, he said it was unfair to compare Stalinism and nazism but conceded that some in central Europe are justified in their ambiguous views on the Soviet victory.

“After the second world war we tried to impose our model of development on many eastern European countries and did it by force,” said Putin. “We have to admit this. And there’s nothing good about it.”…

There was no chance for a follow-up [question]… underlining the usefulness of the single-question format for the Russian president…

After four hours, he left the studio with a stack of handwritten notes and a promise to bring regional leaders to task over the issues that had been raised. If Putin’s appearances are designed to prove one thing, it is that whatever problems might face ordinary Russians, he is not part of the problem, but instead is the only person who can solve them…

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