When the Dictator Steps In: Assessing the Effectiveness of Vladimir Putin’s Pension Reform Address (78611)

Session Information: Political Science
Session Chair: Iris Magne

Monday, 27 May 2024 14:10
Session: Session 3
Room: Room B (Live-Stream)
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

The announcement of an imminent retirement age hike by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2018 resulted in a wave of street protests and a plunge in the approval ratings of Russian political leaders, including President Vladimir Putin. The head of state eventually delivered a televised address to the nation, outlining a rationale for the reform and offering a list of concessions. This paper focuses on this direct intervention by a non-democratic ruler, whose personal popularity is systemically important for the regime. Its purpose is to (1) determine if Vladimir Putin’s intervention was effective in restoring public confidence in the leader and (2) leverage the results to theorise about the risks associated with personal interventions by popular autocrats in regimes where political power is concentrated in the hands of a single individual. The empirical research question is addressed through a quantitative analysis of public opinion data collected by VTsIOM. Using logistic regression as the estimation strategy, I demonstrate that Putin’s intervention failed to promote a recovery in his approval rating, while the age cohort for which the reform was arguably most salient may have played an important role in creating a drag on the aggregate support for the leader. Building on these findings, I discuss possible reasons behind Putin’s failure. The insights from this single-case study can shed light on the weaknesses of Russia’s highly personalised political system as well as the operation of reasonably similar systems elsewhere.

Krzysztof Kruk, King's College London, United Kingdom

About the Presenter(s)
Krzysztof Kruk is currently a PhD student in Russian and Eurasian Studies at King's College London, working on a doctoral project on succession in personalised post-Soviet autocracies.

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00