It may be beyond rational explanation, but almost three-quarters of the Russian people approve of Vladimir Putin. The man is a corrupt thug with KGB written all over him, but he remains a popular figure. A recent survey showed that 72 per cent of Russians have a favourable view of their new president, a vote of confidence any politician would envy.
It isn't that they don't support democracy. They do. They just support a strongman more. Fifty-seven per cent believe it's more important to rely on a strong leader to solve problems while only 32 per cent believe it's more important to rely on democracy. Three-quarters also say they would choose a strong economy over a good democracy.
The irony is that Russian democracy has been so corrupted by men like Putin that not surprisingly it leaves people sceptical. Perhaps that is why the street protests were also popular. While 56 per cent think voting is an effective way to express their opinion about government, 64 per cent believe that attending protests or demonstrations is.
The Russians are not alone of course in wanting to be led by a strongman. People everywhere, including those in democracies, seem to have an unfortunate preference for a dominating leader over a collegial leader. One wonders how many Canadians share that preference, and how many, like the Russians, would choose a strong economy over a good democracy. That would be an interesting survey to do—assuming that you could trust the answers.