If we want change

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Хотим ли мы перемен

Sociologist Denis Volkov , analyst Andrey Kolesnikov about the paradox of expectation from the government itself

Dreams of change in the degree of productivity is sometimes reminiscent of beketovskaya waiting for Godot, who never comes. Social expectations, in principle, not too high. Nevertheless, even the formal change of political cycle, an occasion to reflect on whether there is massive demand for change, and if so, what, who and in what way they can implement.
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We are waiting for change: 83%

In the framework of the joint project of the Carnegie Moscow center and “Levada-the centre” “We are waiting for changes” was held the national quantitative survey and group discussions in Moscow. In August 2017 the views of the supporters of change is equally divided: 42% of Russians stand for a decisive and full-scale changes, another 41% were in favor of minor changes and a gradual improvement of the current situation.

Contrary to the standard views of most changes are not perceived as a threat – only 11% do not want any changes. But any clear understanding of what specific steps are needed to improve the situation, the majority of the population there. In a society dominated by the most common wishes: to live a little better, so that wages were higher that on the shelves were inexpensive products. Answering an open question, these respondents often argued that authorities should “really help people”, instead of “talking about it on TV”, “line their pockets” or “to help other countries.” In the words of the respondents from time to time slipped regret that the government has abandoned the people, does not want to take care of them.

Of course, there are extreme positions. For example, here’s a sad observation from one of the respondents: “People in remote towns <…> want the government became stronger to the rich all shot, to come good Stalin and saved us all. But this is also a change.” Frequent statements – and not the radical of the respondents: “I will say this: do not raise the retirement age, and subtract money all of our oligarchs, give the pensioners”; “they Say that the price of reform must pay the common people, right? Why the price reforms do not have to pay the oligarchs?”

Radical reforms, as a rule, insist the poor. Advanced social strata more like gradual changes. The young wanna change too, but less than the population as a whole. Therefore, it is justified by the traditional understanding that the Russian youth is at the forefront of modernization.

The most meaningful idea of the meaning and direction of reforms in Moscow. They realize the need for not only social development but also the implementation of judicial reforms; the third considers a significant improvement in the quality of public services and support of entrepreneurship (which is 2 times higher than the national average). Every fifth Moscow in the sub-sample noted the need to ensure free and fair elections.

But in General, the positions of representatives of different demographic groups are very poorly differentiated. Layer advanced citizens capable of meaningful and substantive comment on the direction of transformation is much thinner than is commonly believed. And once they have some idea of the necessary political reforms. Some participants in the focus groups talked about the “turnover of power” and “judicial independence” and “the inviolability of private property”, but a clear vision of the possible plan there is no reform here. But the participants of the group discussions often talk about the need to increase government payments, subsidies and incentives, price control, adequate measures to achieve the desired objectives.

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But talking about the need for state regulation lies not just paternalism, which is characteristic even for the urban middle class. Rather, it is a consequence of dissatisfaction with the current state of Affairs in the complete lack of understanding of where to go next. Plus the conviction that after all the state has non-cancelable commitments to citizens.
What do we know about the reformers

Russian opinion polls show that the public knew almost nothing about the programs of Alexei Kudrin and Boris Titov. The number of people able to offer an attractive plan of reforms, the names of these politicians call not more than 1% of respondents (and in General up to 60% of Russians cannot name a single policy capable of it). This is not surprising, as the whole discussion about the directions of development of the country passes by the majority of people and remains a lot of professionals. The reports of the Centre for strategic research published at best fragmentary. Echoes of the expert discussions, if communicated to the General public, it is only through media that can be considered independent, but their regular audience does not exceed 10-15% of the population of the entire country (more – both times in Moscow and other large cities where the answers about the content of the reforms makes more sense).

The participants of the Moscow group discussions would like to see the specific, step-by-step programme of action, as expressed by one Respondent, “as a sign in Excel,” without knowing what these programs are and show them exclusively to officials of ministries, departments and apparatuses of different levels.

In the capital the attitude of focus groups to Kudrin neutral. However, even relatively “liberal” – minded respondents are very careful in the estimates, the main “ring” that they’ve heard, they don’t like, namely raising the retirement age. Any other ideas about the program Kudrin have not. The most offensive potential reformers – that their names called among the names of the leading political talk shows on Federal TV channels. In the absence of truly meaningful public debate on the most pressing issues these characters become “masters of doom”.

On the list of potential reformers and Alexei Navalny. His name comes immediately to standard gentlemen’s set of the official politicians with a traditional menu of polls “For whom would you vote next Sunday?”. It is popular not only in Moscow but also in other major cities, and in cities with a population from 100 000 to 500 000 inhabitants (i.e. it is not purely “Metropolitan” policies) among advanced groups of the population with higher education aged 25-39 years working in managerial positions, on a daily basis using the Internet. Over the last two years he was able to win the sympathy of the most advanced public and most of the electorate of democratic parties – to the growth of his popularity among wide layers of the population prevents primarily ineligible for Federal channels and Federal election campaigns, i.e. the “illegal” status. Bulk appreciate not for the program, activity, investigation, travel to the regions. For his supporters is not so much the specific proposals, as the fact of his being the sole political system.
If not Putin, then Putin…

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In a society dominated by the idea that if someone will make changes, so that, paradoxically, the current government (Moscow focus group, however, on this occasion he expressed obvious skepticism). The lack of political alternatives leads to the fact that Vladimir Putin and the majority of respondents pin their hopes for change. The President clearly had enough time to change the country for the better, and yet he is forgiven much. As was discussed in the focus groups, which in principle skeptical of the fact that the government can start real change, “neither Putin, nor to anyone else, even Jesus Christ now to come and wave a magic wand and resolve issues impossible.” In addition, Putin “does not move” is the latent, often not spoken the sense of the authoritarian nature of the regime (without explanation, without details) and the passive acceptance of the existing rules of the game.

The model that exists for many years, the President embodies the hopes of all groups and layers, and it is the main liberal, nationalist, and imperialist, and socialist – turns Putin in the eyes of many and in the main reformer. The impression that it would be most desirable, and convenient for all the script: to change everything, without changing anything, no sacrifice and no risk, no effort. The power to change myself! The only problem is that none of this happens.

The greatest faith in the reformative capacity of the head of state demonstrate first of all those citizens whose lives are managed and who would like just a small change for the better. His role in this probably was the fact that a large proportion of those who in Russia is usually attributed to the middle class is the different kinds of employees (state employees, officials, security forces, employees of state-owned corporations) who owed their wealth to the state: being realistic, they do not require the impossible alternative of the reformers. Here, however, there is a caveat – mixed shapes reformer and ruler.
How much reform

Price reform is, of course, also worried about the Russians. They are ready for change, not only for their account, and preferably without their active participation. And, paradoxically, the main tool of change that citizens are willing to use choices. A different kind of civic engagement is also important (especially for Muscovites, who have experience of civil resistance of the city hall, developers, etc.), but it is much inferior to participation in election processes. As for the possible charge for reform, in the least degree the respondents are willing to accept cuts in social benefits and increasing the retirement age, the greatest is technological change. They are prepared, for example, and co-payments (together with government) for health services, but the average is not very high degree: 28% agree with this scheme, 66% no.

Total commitment to change, perhaps not too clearly expressed for the Russians. However, the majority of citizens (even those who are part of “postkrymsky Putin majority”) are aware that without changes it is impossible not to move forward, but even to stand still.

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