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Understanding the silent majority in authoritarian populism: what can we learn from popular support for Putin in rural Russia?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Swedish Inst Int Affairs, Russia & Eurasia Programme, Stockholm, Sweden;Uppsala Univ, Inst Russian & Eurasian Studies, Uppsala, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6618-877X
2019 (English)In: The Journal of Peasant Studies, ISSN 0306-6150, E-ISSN 1743-9361, Vol. 46, no 3, p. 561-585Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study distinguishes and challenges three main assumptions/shortcomings regarding the silent majority - the majority of the 'ordinary', 'simple', 'little' people, who are the main supporters of authoritarian populism. The silent majority is commonly portrayed as (1) consisting of 'irrational', 'politically short-sighted' people, who vote against their self-interests; (2) it is analysed as a homogeneous group, without attempting to distinguish different motives and interests among its members; (3) existing studies often overlook the political economy and structures of domination that gave rise to authoritarian populism. I address these shortcomings while analysing the political behaviour of rural Russians, who are the major supporters of Vladimir Putin. I reveal that the agrarian property regime and power relations in the countryside largely define the political posture of different rural groups. Less secure socio-economic strata respond more strongly to economic incentives, while better-off villagers tend to support the regime's ideological appeals. Furthermore, Putin's traditionalist authoritarian leadership style appeals to the archetypal base of the rural society - namely, its peasant roots - and, therefore, finds stronger support among the farming population. Finally, this study reveals that collective interests prevail over individual interests in the voting behaviour of rural dwellers, who support the existing regime despite the economic hardship it imposes upon them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD , 2019. Vol. 46, no 3, p. 561-585
Keywords [en]
Authoritarian populism, the silent majority, rural support, Russia
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-396081DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2018.1561439ISI: 000463539600001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-396081DiVA, id: diva2:1366612
Available from: 2019-10-30 Created: 2019-10-30 Last updated: 2019-10-30Bibliographically approved

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