According to Mikhail Delyagin, at present, the relations between ordinary Russians and people in power are, to put it mildly, not in the shape the ruling elites need for conducting a successful election campaign to achieve the intended result in the State Duma elections.
In recent years, it has become the standard practice in Russia to expect pleasant “gifts” from the authorities to the Russians before elections. Of course, after the polls close and the relevant vertical of legislative and executive power is formed, people are sometimes disappointed by, putting it lightly, an array of unpleasant actions on the part of authorities. However, it is before the elections that they are most often offered all sorts of benefits.
The practice is known as the use of administrative resources in order to improve the popularity rating in the run-up to the elections. But in the Russian reality, nobody talks about this. All the “gifts” of the state to the Russians precede the key voting “completely randomly.”
One of the votes of this kind is to take place this autumn. Election of deputies to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, will be held in September. So, chances are there will be another “present” from the federal center, especially since the ratings of the current government have noticeably declined after a whole series of “unpleasant” actions, some of which the Russians have viewed as unacceptable. In this regard, according to the economist and publicist Mikhail Delyagin, in 2021, people might get an unexpected “surprise” in the form of abolition of the floundering pension reform. It was adopted two years earlier and extended the retirement age by five years.
Election to the State Duma will determine its composition for the next few years. In order to boost popularity ratings before one of the major elections and to encourage people to come to the polls, the Russian authorities will have to make some concessions to the electorate. To Delyagin’s thinking, some sort of bonuses might be offered. In his opinion, some of them are likely to be "surprising."
According to Delyagin, at present, the relations between ordinary Russians and people in power are, to put it mildly, not in the shape that the ruling elites need for conducting a successful electoral campaign and achieve the intended results at the ballot box.
In recent years, the authorities have made a number of unpopular and sometimes antisocial decisions. They were magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the related restrictive measures. As a result, today, many Russians live below poverty line and barely make ends meet. A large number of people have lost their jobs, steady incomes, and businesses. However, no help from the state has been rendered.
Therefore, Delyagin believes that the Russian authorities are highly likely to take an unexpected step giving people “a gift” in the form of the abolition of pension reform. To put it simply, on the eve of the State Duma elections the Russian authorities might officially announce that they decide to cancel this initiative under the pretext that the pension reform has failed to bring the desired results. According to Delyagin, if this happens, chances are the popularity ratings of the ruling elites will significantly increase. Along with that, the Russians might be more willing to vote in order to maintain the status quo.
Moreover, in Delyagin’s opinion, this is the scenario to expect already this year. However, the cancellation of pension reform might happen in 2024, he says, when time to elect the next President comes. Especially, if the authorities in 2021 are confident that they will be able to get the necessary results in the State Duma elections, says Delyagin.