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Political observers say President Putin’s ratings see no considerable changes

December 04, 2013, 1:52 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Ratings of Russian President Vladimir Putin are stably high and minor variations in the results of public opinion polls do not change the overall situation, according to political observers
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© ITAR-TASS/Aleksey Nikolskiy

MOSCOW, December 04, 0:42 /ITAR-TASS/. Ratings of Russian President Vladimir Putin are stably high and minor variations in the results of public opinion polls do not change the overall situation, according to political observers.

“No considerable changes have occurred,” Nikolai Mironov, director general of the Institute of Top-Priority Regional Projects, told Itar-Tass on Tuesday, commenting on the recent poll conducted by the Levada-Centre.

According to the experts, such variations could be caused by a variety of factors. “They could be seasonal fluctuations or discontent over particular measures, but I don’t see any serious tendency that could cardinally change the situation,” he said.

At the same time he noted that electoral ratings were not the same as answers to such questions “do you approve or disapprove,” or “do you like or dislike.” “Putin’s electoral ratings are always higher, more than 50 percent, and such ratings are very high as compared with leaders of other countries,” Mironov noted.

As for the discontent, “there have always been such people,” he said. “We are not in the Soviet Union, where 99 percent were ‘in favour.’ Our people are free to express their opinion. But again, the number of those who are against is smaller than in other countries.”

Another expert, Konstantin Simonov from the department of political science of the Financial University under the Russian government, recalled a classical saying about the half-empty and a half-full glass. “If we look at the difference between those who approve and those who disapprove, it is not the worst in the entire history of the Levada-Centre polls,” he noted. “The difference with the previous lowest result is mere two percent, which is within the measurement accuracy.”

The main thing, according to Simonov, is that those who support the president overweigh those who disapprove him by 15 percent. “Even if one in three does not approve the president, he all the same enjoys support of two thirds. In any case, this is more than half,” Simonov said, adding that such ratings were only a dream for any Western politician.

He noted that it was quite natural that some people were dissatisfied with the president. In his words, “the motives of such sociology are understandable,” the more so as during his current presidential term Putin had to take a number of very important but unpopular decisions. “Indeed, there were such decisions as the reform of the Academy of Sciences, the law on education, and, last but not least, this year’s budget was very austere. These decisions can be explained and Putin has time to explain why it was done,” the expert said.

In any case, he stressed, the mere fact that the share of those who support the president was by 15 percent bigger than of those who disapprove him gives Putin a mandate to go on with his course. “Putin’s positions are quite stable and he has no critical problems,” Simonov said in conclusion.

According public opinion poll results published by the Levada-Centre on Tuesday, as many as 52 percent of Russians “have favourable impression” of Putin (last year, there were 53 percent of such respondents), a total of 47 percent support his actions as the president (48 percent in 2012), while only 31 percent do not support him (there were 29 percent of such respondents in November 2012).

The poll was conducted among 1,600 respondents on November 15-18, 2013. The statistical error was under 3.4 percent.

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