Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What the Polls Say in Russia

Interesting reading from the latest polls done by the Yuri Levada center in Russia. The "thrill of victory" in the intermediate aftermath of the "Russian victory" in Georgia, which gave a boost to Dimitry Medvedev's poll ratings in September--has been replaced by concern about the Russian economy.

Via Angus Reid Global Monitor, the trajectory:

In August 2008--Medvedev had a 73 percent approval rating and a 22 percent disapproval; in September, the height of the victory buzz, his rating shot up to 83 percent (shades of what George H.W. Bush had in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991). Now he's slipping back into the mid-70s; and the disapproval rating is also up.

I realize that for Western politicians to be cursed with falling approval ratings in the 70 percent range is no tragedy--but it shows that there is an undercurrent of concern about how permanent and lasting the Putin revival for Russia might be under Medvedev.

If the Putin / Medvedev tandem don't deliver, so what? It's not like another guy comes into office.
When it comes to approval ratings in Russia, I think most know that there is little to be learned from those numbers. In a country where Putin was able to strong arm most, if not all, print and TV news media organizations- the government has an unsettling amount of control over what the public knows, and how information is explained to them. We can look at this survey of information from the identity perspective, because approval of the Russian President from the Russian is being assessed, which reflects how the public sees their government. This particular post can be analyzed on the individual level because the approval ratings are judging Medvedev as an individual holding a prominent office in the Russian government. What is fascinating is that his approval ratings are going down, which may mean that the Russian people are starting to become more skeptical and questioning of their government.

During Putin's reign as President, he consistently held approval ratings around 80% and used this number to justify a political theory that correlates decrease in civilian freedoms to an increase in economic growth.
We don't know how reliable these polls are, or how much of Putin's popularity is based solely on his belligerence to the U.S.
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