Putin approval rating takes a hit as Russians feel the squeeze

Putin approval rating takes a hit as Russians feel the squeeze
By Henry Kirby November 27, 2015

Continuing economic hardship meant President Vladimir Putin’s popularity fell slightly in November, while the prime minister and the rest of the Russian government saw their popularity fall to match or slide beneath their post-Crimea annexation lows. The polls, conducted on 20-23 November by Russia’s Levada-Center, do not reflect the reactions to Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet over Syria on November 24, which will be reflected instead in December’s polls.

Putin’s approval rating fell 3 percentage points (pp) to 85%, matching the post-Crimea average for the Russian leader. The approval ratings for PM Dmitry Medvedev, down 1pp to 61%, the government, down 2pp to 54%, and the State Duma, down 2pp to 48%, all fell for the second consecutive month.

Russians' patience with the government appears to be faltering as the stuttering economy shows little signs of improvement. Inflation in October remained in double digits for the 11th consecutive month, while unemployment grew by 0.3pp to 5.5% and real wages fell year on year for the 12th successive month.

The proportion of respondents judging that Russia is “moving in the right direction” fell 6pp to 55% – just 1pp higher than the post-Crimea low.

The low approval ratings come amid talk of a turnaround for Russia's struggling economy, with Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev announcing that the government sees growth occurring as soon as 2016, with 0.7% now forecast for next year. The 4.1% contraction in the economy in the third quarter is now being regarded by some as the bottom of the recession.