Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Is public opinion as volatile as the polls?

Has Putin met his match in Russia, and is it Putin?

Trust in Vladimir Putin declines steeply among Russians, poll shows
Trust in Vladimir Putin and Russia’s ruling party have declined steeply over the past year with analysts pointing to the government’s controversial pension changes as the main reason.

In a poll by the independent Levada Centre, 39% of Russians listed Putin as a politican they trust. That is a 20% decrease from November 2017, when Putin was named by 59% of Russians, according to the same polling agency.

The Levada polls are the latest to show a strong backlash as the Kremlin pushes unpopular social reforms to relieve pressure on the budget. This month, 45% of Russians told FOM (Public Opinion Foundation), a polling agency close to the Kremlin, they would vote for Putin if elections were held this Sunday. That rating was down from 67% at the beginning of the year.

It is among the lowest support Putin has held in the last decade, according to FOM data, tied only with his support in late 2013 just before the annexation of Crimea and a wave of patriotic fervour.

The ruling United Russia party, seen as more vulnerable than Putin, has also been hit hard. FOM showed the party had 31% support, also a drop of close to 20% since the beginning of the year, with its docile rivals rising in the polls…

That growing anger has been reflected in elections in Russian regions, which have been just as much of a headache for the Kremlin recently as foreign allegations of spying and election meddling…

Voters in the far east and Siberia rejected governors from United Russia, the party closely allied with Putin. In their place, they supported candidates from communist and nationalist parties, forcing the Kremlin to reshuffle governors to problem regions and deploy political advisers to manage the backlash. Putin has also fired a number of regional governors…

Russia’s pension changes, which were signed into law by Putin last week, will delay retirement age for all Russians by five years. Men must work until 65, and women must work until 60…

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