What do Russians actually think about democracy?

December 12, 2007

It is election time in Russia – rigged parliamentary ones recently, Presidential elections to come. We are even almost sure who is going to be the next president. But the government still worries about what people think. And Russian pollsters – most under some form of control by the Kremlin, found out a few interesting things. My source is http://www.businessneweurope.eu (requires subscription):

A “poll conducted by the Levada Center reported that 68% of people prefer order to democracy, while only 18% said that they believe democracy is the most important factor. A poll by the VTsIOM research agency said that 52% of people favor an economy based on state planning and distribution; this is in contrast to 41% asked the same question in 1997 when 67% of people polled said they believed that maintaining order is paramount, even if democracy and personal freedom become of secondary importance.

(…) At the same time, 66% of people (according to a Levada poll) said they believe that the authorities must be controlled by civil society. This is up from 55% in a poll conducted two years ago. There is also a lot of uncertainty as to exactly what democracy actually is. The Levada poll reported – in a multiple choice questionnaire – that 44% of people thought it means freedom of expression, 30% said it represented order and stability, 26% said it stands for economic prosperity, and 21% said it is law and order. Finally, 11% of respondents said they believed democracy was empty talk.”

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