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Regular version of the site

Article

Putin's popularity since 2010: why did support for the Kremlin plunge, then stabilize?

Post-Soviet Affairs. 2014. Vol. 30. No. 5.
Treisman D.

This paper seeks to explain the surprising decline in Russian President Vladimir Putin's approval rating in 2011. During the previous 10 years, Putin's rating had correlated closely with Russians' perceptions of the state of the economy. Yet the fall in his approval – from 79% in December 2010 to 63% a year later – occurred despite roughly stable economic perceptions. Comparing Levada Center polls from late 2010 and 2011, the paper explores both who (what types of respondents) grew disenchanted with Putin, and why(what issues or grievances prompted this switch). It finds that (a) the fall in support for the Kremlin – although faster among members of the “creative class,” women, the rich, and residents of provincial cities – was broad-based, occurring among all social groups examined; (b) attitudes toward immigration, the West, and Russia's international status, as well as assessments of public service quality, changed little during 2011; (c) Putin's declining popularity most likely reflected stronger – not weaker – economic concerns; although the proportion judging economic performance to be poor did not increase, those who saw economic weakness became much less supportive of the Kremlin. Russians appear to have increasingly blamed their political leaders for unsatisfactory economic and political outcomes.