In This Review

Russia Transformed: Developing Popular Support for a New Regime
Russia Transformed: Developing Popular Support for a New Regime
By Richard Rose, William Mishler, and Neil Munro
Cambridge University Press, 2006, 238 pp

This is an absolutely fascinating political portrait of the Russian public formed from 14 surveys done nearly every year from 1992 to 2005 -- surveys that measured attitudes about not only the present and the future but also the past. The crucial punch line is that support for the political status quo is in equilibrium. Although most Russians would prefer to live in a democratic country, and know they do not, an ever larger percentage have come to accept the "plebiscitarian autocracy" they have as the way things are and will be. It helps that whereas 51 percent of Russians said their situation was "unbearable" in 1998, by 2006, 51 percent reported it "difficult but bearable" and 22 percent "not so bad." On the other side of the coin, political alternatives are seen as less and less plausible. True, there are risks to the equilibrium, and these the authors sketch. So brief a synopsis, however, scarcely does justice to this immensely rich vivisection of the Russian body politic.