January 27, 1993

The Russians Rethink Democracy

The Pulse of Europe II


As their standard of living goes from bad to worse and uncertainty about the future increases, the Russian people have soured on democracy.

By a margin of 51% to 31% Russians say they now favor a strong leader, rather than a democratic form of government to solve their country’s problems.  Only 17 months ago, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, a comparable Times Mirror Center poll found just the opposite division of opinion – 39% of Russians favored a strong hand at the helm and 51% wanted a democratic solution to their nation’s daunting problems.

The slide toward authoritarianism, in a nuclear-armed nation that remains potentially the most dangerous to the United States, is manifested in a number of ways in the survey and in a series of focus groups conducted throughout European Russia in November.   The polling found a growing disillusionment with the Russian parliament, declining interest in politics and no signs that the people feel increased political empowerment in post Soviet Russia.