The Levada Institute’s latest ratings are out, and Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has reached an all-time high: 89%.
As the chart above illustrates, Putin’s popularity increased enormously following the annexation of Crimea last year. At the time, most observers expected this to be short-lived, much like the surge in popularity enjoyed by George W. Bush and Tony Blair after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This has not turned out to be the case. Putin’s ratings continue to rise.
Meanwhile, Russians believe that their country is heading in the right direction, with the latest Levada survey showing that 64% consider this to be the case.
Strangely, the peaks in optimism in the second chart coincide with periods of financial difficulty – 2008 and 2014/15. I don’t have a good explanation for this, except maybe that it indicates a degree of confidence in the way the Russian government is handling crises and a sort of ‘rally around the flag’ effect. At any rate, this does suggest that economic difficulties do not necessarily translate into an unhappy population.
Elections to the Russian Parliament are to be held in 2016. According to a Levada opinion poll conducted in May, the ruling United Russia Party currently enjoys 49% support, with the Communist Party in second place with 11%. The only other party with enough support to even pass the 5% threshold to get seats is Zhirinovsky’s LDPR. As Levada’s figures show, United Russia’s support is the largest it has been in over a year.
|United Russia (D. Medvedev)||37||42||44||42||42||44||46||48||46||49|
|Communist Party (CPRF) (G. Zyuganov)||5||11||8||9||10||8||9||9||10||11|
|Liberal-democratic Party of Russia
(LDPR) (V. Zhirinovsky)
|Green Alliance – the People’s Party
|A Just Russia (S. Mironov)||3||3||2||1||3||1||2||2||2||2|
|Apple (S. Mitrokhin)||<1||1||1||1||<1||<1||<1||<1||<1||1|
|Progress Party (A. Navalny)||1||1||1||1||<1||1||1||1||<1||1|
|Civic Platform (R. Shaikhutdinov)||1||1||1||1||1||1||2||1||1||<1|
|Republican Party of Russia – PARNAS
|The Motherland (D. Rogozin)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||<1|
|Patriots of Russia (G Semigin)||<1||1||1||<1||<1||<1||1||1||1||<1|
|I wouldn’t take part in the elections||18||16||19||17||18||18||17||16||17||14|
|It is difficult to say||27||18||18||18||18||20||16||16||16||14|
Things may of course change in the future, but for now these figures make it clear that economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation have not in any way undermined support for the Russian government. On the contrary, Putin and his party appear to be more popular than ever.