20 years in power: Le Figaro about “social contracts” of Vladimir Putin

On Friday, August 9, the newspaper Le Figaro publishes an article entitled “Vladimir Putin is seeking a third breath.” The newspaper reminds readers, as the current President of Russia came to power for 20 years ranged indicator of its popularity and what a “social contract” with the people had to go to Putin to support the rating.

The first “social contract”

Le Figaro recallsthe circumstances under which Vladimir Putin won the post of President of Russia. Exactly 20 years ago, on 9 August 1999, Boris Yeltsin appointed his first Deputy and acting Chairman of the Russian government and named him as his successor as President.

January 1, 2000, Russia in all senses woke up in a new era. On the eve of Yeltsin announced his resignation, and acting head of state Vladimir Putin. He turned to the Russians with new year’s greetings a few minutes before the striking of Kremlin chimes, announced the upcoming presidential election, promised that the country “will not be a power vacuum”, and “freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of mass media, ownership rights, these fundamental elements of a civilized society will be reliably protected by the state”. In March 2000, Putin won the presidential election in the first round, with nearly 53% of the vote.

Since then, says Le Figaro, Putin “staged a purge in the ranks of journalists, who have since sung his praises, and made the oligarchs a choice: exile, prison or obedience. Almost all chose the third option and was enriched as never before.” As a consequence, underlines the edition, the representatives of the opposition were deprived of funding and support from the media and also had to make a choice: to obey or disappear from the system of representative bodies.

The interlocutors Le Figaro called the first decade of the 2000 years of the time of the first “social contract” between Vladimir Putin and Russian citizens. The newspaper formulates it as “eat your fill, but reject pluralism.” After the rise in oil prices has improved and the indicators of the Russian economy, increased flow of foreign investment, the financial position of the Russians is stabilized. Following this strengthened the President’s rating.

The second “social contract”

The need for a second “social contract” occurs during the third presidential term of Vladimir Putin. Le Figaro refers to the events of 2012, when, according to the newspaper, part of the population consisting of Pro-Western citizens, “more did not want an authoritarian President,” the head of the country and “demanded free elections.” In these circumstances, Vladimir Putin “does veer toward conservatism and anti-Westernism”. The biggest result of this tactic became in 2014 the issue of Crimea, which Vladimir Putin’s popularity increased again.

The appearance in Russia of a new region undoubtedly led to the redistribution of the budget. This was the second social contract: “Putin will once again make Russia a superpower, but will have to tighten their belts.”

Once the population of “tightened belts”, it was discovered that the President had failed to rebuild the country’s economy and diversify income. At the same time profit from the oil sector decreases, and the sanctions and counter-sanctions hit the purchasing power of Russians. The trajectory of decline repeats the curve of Putin’s popularity. Approval of the 2018 draft pension reform that increased the age of retirement, has only exacerbated the situation.

Will there be a third “contract”?

For the 20th anniversary in power, Vladimir Putin has approached to the accompaniment of the protests, provoked by the banning of independent candidates to participate in elections to the Moscow city Duma. Separately the author notes the fact that Russian TV channels are silent about the round date in the career of the President, at any other time would be happy to grab such newsworthy. “Probably got instructions from the top” — suggests Le Figaro. The release also quoted the comment of political analyst Fedor Krasheninnikov, published in the newspaper “Vedomosti”: “20 years could be ruled by a monarch or a leader, but an elected head of state is an incredibly long term of stay in power. Even just repeating this number publicly, you can make quite loyal citizens to think: how did it happen that a young and energetic successor, Yeltsin has ruled longer than Brezhnev, moreover, longer than Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev and Yeltsin, together”.

Le Figaro refers to the data research by the Levada Center, published July 30. They say that 45% of Russians would like to see Vladimir Putin for the presidential post and after 2024, but 38% — against, and is a major indicator, which continues to grow. According to another study, which also refers to the newspaper, 24% of respondents believe that Putin is unable to deal with the current problems of the country. This percentage also has a chance to grow, as the least supportive of the President is located-educated people 25 to 30 years, i.e. future elite. To save the “unsinkable President” it is new — the third — “social contract,” concludes Le Figaro.
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