Do Russians Support Putin?

Issue Date July 2022
Volume 33
Issue 3
Page Numbers 31–37
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Do the elections and opinion polling help to assess the level of popular support for the policies of Russian president Vladimir Putin, such as the invasion of Ukraine? This essay argues that Russia under Putin represents an instance of plebiscitary democracy, a regime with a strong leader relying on popular legitimacy derived from the passive and disenchanted masses. In such a regime, both elections and polling function according to the principle of acclamation, validating the ready-made decisions rather than revealing the public choice. Historically, plebiscitary democracies tend to engage in unprovoked wars that precipitate their demise. However, the temptations of plebiscitary design for contemporary liberal democracies should not be underestimated.

About the Author

Greg Yudin is professor of political philosophy at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. His research focuses on the political theory of democracy with an emphasis on public-opinion polling.

View all work by Greg Yudin