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Putin's Popularity Based upon Cognitive Consonance

Today people in this country are afraid of losing stability most of all
Director General of the Center for Political Technologies Igor Bunin spoke at a press conference on the subject "Results of the parliamentary election and prospects of the forthcoming presidential election". He said: "It is perfectly evident that Vladimir Putin will win the election with a tremendous result. Certainly he will not win as much votes as the recently elected president of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili, but as recent polls reveal the incumbent president of Russia may win 80 per cent of votes, Sergey Glazyev will have 3 per cent and other candidates will have just about 1 per cent each. Vladimir Putin will have the votes of more than two thirds of the electorate. In the middle of 2003, the rating of the incumbent president made up 52-55 per cent approximately and reached 67 per cent by November (it made up two thirds of the electorate). Today, four fifth of the electorate support the president."
 
The political scientist paid particular attention to the manner how the mighty electoral support of the president got formed. "I think the support has the long-term as well as the short-term effect. The long-term effect lies in people's fear for disorder and loss of stability rather than for totalitarianism. Psychological researches show that today people in this country are afraid of losing stability most of all, they also would not like to lose the hope and the symbol of unity personified by Vladimir Putin."
 
Igor Bunin adds that the popularity of President Putin is based upon a psychological phenomenon called cognitive consonance: any negative information gets into people's conscience, but is immediately rejected there because otherwise the model of the world gets broken. The phenomenon is the basis of President Putin's popularity and high rating. It explains why the majority of the electorate support him, but gives no explanation to the fact why the majority makes up four fifth of the electorate.  This fact can be explained only with the political failure of other candidates who in some ways resisted domination of the president. Why vote for the SPS or Yabloko if main objectives of their pre-election programs are professional army, the jury and so on? The issues are already implemented, and the electorate does not care about trifle details. On the other hand, why vote for the Communist Party fighting for social inequality if the Yukos precedent has arisen? In fact, these elements suppress each other and do not exert negative effect upon President Putin because he has covered all these aspects in the ideological program and has an opportunity to manipulate them."
 
Igor Bunin also emphasized the significant political results of the 2003 parliamentary election. He says that traditionally the authority got united with other subcultures to defeat the communist subculture. It was for the first time at the last parliamentary election that the authority employed every possible means to split and smash the communist subculture. The political scientist adds: "The Party of Pensioners attempted to win the votes of a group of pensioners. Gennady Seleznev wanted to win the votes of a liberal group of the communist electorate. Sergey Glazyev emerged on the scene to take 4-5 per cent of votes away from United Russia. Svyataya Rus (the Holy Russia) party wanted to deprive the Communist Party of some portion of its nationalist electorate. In a word, the small parties attacked the Communist Party to take a bite of its electorate."

In conclusion, Igor Bunin said that opinion polls had revealed before the 2003 parliamentary election that approximately 15 or sometimes 20 per cent of the population were not definite for which party they would vote. That was quite understandable, as all the brands were outdated and did not satisfy the electorate from the psychological point of view. The crisis of political brands was in favor of some new party that was to appear soon. At the beginning of 2003, we spoke of three major problems. First, which party will be the first, the Communist Party of United Russia? Second, which of the liberal parties will be a success? Nobody could guess that none of them would enter the Duma. Third, we made conjectures if the sixth party would enter the Duma. Later it was clear the Rodina block would be the sixth party to enter the Duma. Political scientists of the Presidential Administration formed the party in August 2003. It was particularly important that the party agreed with the mentality of the society. Its success was connected with the leader's image, with the party's line and support of the government. The government supported the Rodina block, and the latter in its turn did not criticize the president himself but his line and insisted the line must be changed.