Russian Democracy in Eclipse: What the Polls Tell Us

Issue Date July 2004
Volume 15
Issue 3
Page Numbers 43-51
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Some think that the failure of the democratic parties during parliamentary elections in December 2003 and the undisputed dominance of President Putin’s supporters in the political arena means the demise of the hopes of establishment in Russia of a democratic system, at the very least—for the foreseeable future, for 50 or 100 years. Until recently out of all the post-Soviet transformations, political pluralism and multi-party system received the lowest grades in public opinion. Democracy attributes that emerged in Russia with the advent of changes did not include citizens’ active participation and responsibility. The curtailment of political pluralism which started with President Putin’s coming to power and which became obvious after 2003–2004 elections did not meet with serious resistance. During Putin’s first presidential term, the depolitization of the political arena in the country took place. To the extent the political constituent is returning to public life the democracy mechanisms will also develop.

About the Author

Yuri A. Levada is director of the Yuri Levada Analytical Center for opinion polling. He was head of the state-owned but independent All-Russian Center for Public Opinion and Market Research (VTsIOM) until the Russian government took it over by force in September 2003. At that time Levada and his staff set up the private polling agency VTsIOM-A, now known as the Levada Center. The following essay was translated from the Russian by Alex Campbell.

View all work by Yuri A. Levada