Friday, February 13, 2015

13/2/15: Data: Don't Bank on Sanctions Triggering Political Change in Russia

A very interesting insight into the interaction of politics and economics in public perception of political power distribution and public satisfaction with political life from the Pew Research:

Here are some numbers:

Political satisfaction in Russia in the above chart is quite telling and coincident with public approval ratings for the Government (though these are always lower than the approval ratings of President Putin). In fact, Russian public satisfaction with political situation is the highest in the entire sample of countries. The data covers Spring 2014, so it is somewhat dated and does not reflect subsequent economic and geopolitical developments.

In the context of Russia and Ukraine, the above chart maps public perception of the power of oligarchs. Not surprisingly, Russia comes out much more favourably than Ukraine. Notice that Russian perception of power concentration in the hands of the wealthy is on par with Asian median. As chart below shows, Russian perceptions of power concentration in the hands of the wealthy is actually consistent with Higher Income countries median at both ends of the opinion spectrum.

And for the last, a fascinating plot of relationship between economic environment and satisfaction with political system:

Again, note Russia's position in the above, which appears to be statistically below the correlation line, implying significantly higher satisfaction with political system component to be unrelated to economic environment/conditions than sample average.

All of the above reinforces the argument that in Russia's case, economic environment is much less important in driving public attitudes toward political system than in other countries, which, of course, reinforces the argument that economic sanctions and economic warfare against Russia are unlikely to deliver the results expected under the traditional assumptions of the close links between economic performance and political satisfaction. In other words, don't bank on sanctions and/or economic hardship triggering regime change in Moscow. At least not in the short- to medium-term.
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