Replacing Democracy with Numbers

PONARS Eurasia
02 Aug 2019

(Point & Counterpoint) Under Russian President Vladimir Putin, plebiscitary techniques have played a key role in politics as a way to manufacture the image of democratic legitimacy. Far from being opposed to elections, the current regime readily transforms them into plebiscites and produces impressive polling numbers while simultaneously demobilizing popular participation. On numerous occasions, the Kremlin resorts to plebiscitary polling in order to effectively manipulate public sentiments during political crises. Recently, however, this technique failed when it was applied in response to a mass protest in Yekaterinburg. This failure, argues Greg Yudin, might be indicative of the latent shifts in public perceptions taking place in Russia.

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