A Well-Organized Plаy: Symbolic Politics and the Effect of the Pro-Putin Rallies

39 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2012  

Regina Smyth

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science

Anton Sobolev

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Irina V. Soboleva

National Research University Higher School of Economics; Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: October 3, 2012

Abstract

The paper illustrates the government’s agility in response to opposition protests and the debacle of parliamentary elections. We explore the evolution of Kremlin strategies from a reliance on cooptation to more coercive strategies — a trend that continued after Putin’s election in March. These strategies were successful in mobilizing core voters, creating common identity among participants, and containing the electoral effects of the opposition protests. However, the government's strategy also embodied significant costs that are likely to have longer-term influences and did little to build a true movement of regime loyalists. The Kremlin’s rigid definition of both the symbols and rhetoric of Putinism left little room for participants to participate in the production of symbols and language. While the narratives imposed from above help Putin’s supporters to participate in political life in limited ways, they remain unable to formulate and articulate independent political positions. As a result, supporters remain highly dependent on the state. Deprived of the benefit of hearing supporters’ demands, this strategy also leaves the state in peril of further losing touch with its political base.

Keywords: elections, mass protests, collective actions, cooptive strategies, hybrid political regimes, Russia

JEL Classification: D72, D74

Suggested Citation

Smyth, Regina and Sobolev, Anton and Soboleva, Irina V., A Well-Organized Plаy: Symbolic Politics and the Effect of the Pro-Putin Rallies (October 3, 2012). Higher School of Economics Research Paper No. WP BRP 05/PS/2012 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2156342 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2156342

Regina Smyth (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Political Science ( email )

Bloomington, IN
United States

Anton Sobolev

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/antsobolev/

Irina V. Soboleva

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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