Socio-economic Change and the Prospects for the Political Transformation of Russia
On January 9, 2012, Dr. Mikhail Dmitriev, President of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) in Moscow, gave a presentation on shifts in Russian public opinion and how this might be an indication of socio-economic change that may lead to meaningful political transformation. Dr. Dmitriev outlined five major developments in Russia’s current political system: (1) a sharp increase in the demand for alternative leaders; (2) the aging of the political brand; (3) the aging of political rhetoric; (4) the polarization of the electorate and of protest intentions; and (5) the rise of the middle class.
Commenting on potential future scenarios, Dr. Dmitriev argues that in the short-term the growing political opposition will “snowball” and will create a shaky balance of conflicting political forces as the regime battles the opposition. In the long-term, Dr. Dmitriev believes, preconditions—such as continued economic growth and the rise of the middle class—may provide the foundation for a full-bodied and effective democratic system to take root.