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Яндекс цитирования

18.05.2021, вторник. Московское время 06:18

«« Пред. | ОГЛАВЛЕНИЕ | След. »»

Analysis of Findings

I. Political Participation and its Effectiveness

II. Establishment of Civil Society and Potential of Citizenship

III. Participation in the Election Process as Indicator of the Activity of People

IV. People and Power

V. Value Orientations: Human Rights and Values of Freedom

VI. Role of public organizations and political parties in raising the population's activity

VII. Activists and population - similar and different features

I. Political Participation and its Effectiveness

The research of the main forms and types of political participation, starting from Soviet time, has revealed its multidimensional picture. The most mass form of political participation under the conditions of representative democracy is participation in voting. In terms of involvement in this form, our country is little different compared to Western democracies. On average, Russian people - both the activists and the population - participate in voting just as actively as in the majority of Western democracies. Therefore, the findings of participation in voting, if taken independently, insufficiently differentiate the population and explain the condition of political participation.

Other forms of political involvement of Russians have a substantially higher explanatory potential. From the quantitative viewpoint, a general regularity is seen in Russia, just as in other countries of the world2 - as political participation become more complicated and require more substantial personal effort and initiative, educational level and social experience, the number of involved people of the country decreases, while the share of activists increases among participants. For Russia as a whole, if we leave aside involvement in voting during elections, is characterized by a low level of participation of the population, except for participation in subbotniks3 and, to some extent, in election campaigns. However, participation in subbotniks in Soviet time was «voluntary/compulsory», while participation in subbotniks and voskresniks4 (this form of participation of the population accounts for 45%) was rather mobilizational last year, because their organizers for the population were, first of all, organization at the place of their work or study and local authorities, while the main organizers of this form of participation for the activists were various public associations, including trade unions, political parties and other public organizations.

One of the most significant characteristics of political involvement of the activists is their domination in all the three protest forms of participation. The comparison of the dynamics (the following time intervals that we selected were `before 1993', `1993-1998', `1998-2002' and `last year') of protest participation of these two segments of society has revealed additional and substantial differences between them. While involvement of the population in all forms of protest clearly tends to decrease, involvement of the activists in protest actions, except for individual forms, tends to increase.

Another, even more important difference of the protest participation of the activists from the protest participation of the population is its goals. While in case of the population, the main goal is to achieve improvement of their socio-economic condition by ensuring timely payment of and an increase in salaries, benefits, pensions, scholarships, the activists are characterized by a substantially wider range of goals and motives of such participation, of which citizenship goals make up a considerable share.

This may be illustrated by using the example of the dynamics of protest participation in the forms specified in the following table.

Table 2. Participation in strikes, pickets, building occupation, traffic obstruction

Time Intervals The activists Population
Last year 42% 7%
1998-2002 29% 13%
1993-1998 10% 71%
Before 1993 6% 3%
TOTAL 100% 100%

An upsurge of participation in these forms of protest with the population is found at the peak of nonpayment of salaries, and then drops sharply, while with the activists a stable increase in such participation is seen, which shows an increase in citizenship with this segment of society. This occurs because of an ever increasing concern of the activists with the situation related to the rights and freedoms of people, their intention to attract the attention of society to such unresolved problems as the reform of the housing and communal sector, the military conflict in Chechnya, drugs addiction, and alcoholism.

One of the world's universal indicators of the maturity of a civil society and the quality of political participation is the involvement of people in the activity of nongovernmental public organizations (NGO's) and the forms of such involvement. Participation in the activity of nongovernmental organizations is also among the most effective channels of political socialization, formation of skills and preferences of citizenship.

In this case, enormous differences between the activists and the other population of the country are obvious. The overwhelming majority of Russians, first of all the main population of the country, are nonmembers of any NGO's, except for trade unions. The relatively high involvement of the population in the activity of political parties should give the wrong impression, because for 66% of them this happened more than 10 years (before 1993) ago. The participation of the population in the activity of youth organizations is somewhat better. However, the picture is depressive in the other types of NGO's, even in special interest associations.

We have to state that although presently, according to Minister of Justice of Russia Chaika, there are some 135 thousand public associations in Russia (Izvestia, October 24, 2002), the majority of the population of the country is, in essence, excluded from the main structures of civil society. This means that the self-organization of society is on such a low level that it has not yet acquired enough qualities to turn itself into a true civil society.

II. Establishment of Civil Society and Potential of Citizenship

The establishment of civil society begins with the transformation of people, subjects of the country into citizens, with the formation within a large part of the population of the sense of personal responsibility for their relatives, acquaintances, and, in particular, for the condition of affairs in society. For Russia where paternalistic subject political culture is deeply rooted, the process of such formation is especially difficult and long.

This research confirms the hypothesis that one of the main difference of the most active part of society from the remaining population is, first of all, the sense of high responsibility that is characteristic of the activists. When the responsibility of parents for their children is concerned, both segments of society as a whole show a high and similar level of responsibility. As the object of responsibility become more distant from the circle of relatives, the differences between the two segments of society become greater. The table below speaks very convincingly about that. It contains some aggregated findings based on answers to a number of questions offered in a questionnaire on the sense of personal responsibility of respondents (the necessity to do something or to contribute) for the condition of affairs of groups of people or various housing territorial and administrative political establishments.

It should be noted that the activists especially exceed the remaining population according to the indicator of «big responsibility». The main thing is that the share of those who do not feel any responsibility among them is, on average, by two or three times lower than among the population. Simultaneously, and that is especially alarming, less than a half of the population as a whole have some sense of responsibility for the condition of affairs in local, regional and federal locations of their residence and are ready to do something or to contribute to the solution of problems experienced by these administrative political establishments.

Table 3. Sense of responsibility for a certain group or for the conditions of affairs (as % of those who «feel responsibility»)

Groups Activists Population
For other people's children 89% 61%
For refugees 71% 33%
In the city 84% 46%
In the rayon 84% 52%
In the oblast 78% 42%
In the country as a whole 77% 47%

The findings of the survey of how respondents view their civil duty in politics and governance of the above-mentioned administrative territorial and state territorial establishments show that it is not just about the low sense of civil responsibility of the majority of the population of the country. They prove the contradictory character of political culture of the contemporary Russian society. It combines some features of participatory democratic and steadily remaining paternalistic subject culture.

For example, these findings allow to make a conclusion that the majority of Russians interiorize the values of political participation as a central institute of democracy. Only 2-3% of the activists and 7-9% of the population believe that they must not participate in the governance of these establishments. However, it should be remembered that the rhetoric of the necessity to participate in the governance of the affairs of the «socialist» state and society was a part of Soviet ideology and propaganda. Therefore, the value orientation for such participation may not be considered as an exclusive merit of the post-Soviet period of Russia. It is important how this general orientation combines with the more specific preferences. The research of these preferences/positions has revealed a less optimistic picture.

Only from 17% (who are ready themselves to find possibilities to participate in the governance of the affairs of the entire country) to 28% (who are ready to find possibilities to participate in the governance of the affairs of the rayon) of the polled activists and from 1% to 3% of the entire population, respectively, take a personal activist position.

It was a little unexpected to find out that the distribution of answers of those who relate their political participation to the actions of authorities regarding the organization of such participation: from 13% to 19% of the activists and from 5% to 8% of the remaining population of the country take this position. The share of both segments of society that believe that the solution of the most important public problems in our country is little dependent on an increase in the activity of people turned out to be even larger: 50% of the activists and 58% of the population take this position. This paradox is explained by the opinion of 83% of the activists and 70% of the population that agree that authorities should involve people in making important decisions. Based on that, we may conclude that the participatory experience of Russians, first of all the activists, led a considerable part of them to a conclusion that under the contemporary conditions it would be rather difficult or even merely impossible for Russia to succeed in the solution of many problems without the assistance of authorities.

This research confirms that under the conditions of representative democracy, even such a incomplete one as we have in Russia, the majority of people consider as their main civil duty participation in elections. The difference between the activists and the remaining population of the country is that the former, to a large extent, especially at the local and federal level of politics and governance, do not limit their civil duty to participation in elections, but rather combine it with the preference to exercise some control of elected officials.

The additional presentation of the state of citizenship with people of the country is given by answers to the questions on the degree of interest in political and public life. Simultaneously, this question allows to reveal certain preconditions of political involvement, because there is a direct correction between the degree of interest in public political life and the intensity of political participation. The answers to this question differentiate the activists and the remaining population of the country.

The hypothesis was confirmed that the overwhelming majority of the activists (of which there were 90%) is interested in politics and public life, while only 50% of the population shows some general political interest. Further, only of 9% of the population (compared to 50% of the activists) shows an intense interest, while almost a half of the population shows either very weak interest, or no interest at all in public political life.

The next step on the way to transition from general interest in politics to political actions, to participation in politics is people looking for political information, and discussing political issues with their relatives and colleagues. Researched according to seven parameters, the indicator of interest in politics, and, simultaneously, of informational involvement in politics shows that in this area there are substantial differences between the activists and the population as a whole. They are least seen when watching news on all-Russian TV channels. Rather great differences between the two researched segments of society were revealed in relation to reading local (rayon, oblast, republic) and national newspapers (respectively 77% and 69% of the activists and only 47% and 28% of the population read them frequently). These differences may be explained by a higher income level of families of the activists that find it materially easier to spend money on subscriptions to periodicals. However, differences in the frequency of listening to news programs on the radio and, in particular, in the frequency of discussing political issues with families, friends and colleagues (among the activists, respectively 21% and 11% rarely discuss political issues, while among the population, 48% and 40%) show the effect of other factors. One of them is a substantially larger share of people with higher education: it accounts for 69% of the activists and 22% of the population. However, comparison of informational activity of groups with higher education in both segments of society shows that it is not so much about educational level at all.

Participation or nonparticipation and their levels are largely related to the appraisal of a person of the possibility or impossibility to influence, with the help of various forms of political involvement, the situation at all levels of governance of the country, from the local to federal level. The findings show once again the dramatic differences between the two researched segments of society.

On average, there are twice as many people among the activists compared to the remaining the population who believe that their political participation may influence the situation both at the local place of residence, and at the national level. The exception is the appraisals of the possibilities (and, indirectly, of the expediency) of participation in the most radical protest forms - traffic obstruction, armed resistance to illegal or unfair actions of authorities and in acts of civil insubordination to authorities. On average, at least 30% of all respondents believe that they can influence the situation in society by participation in radical forms of protest. Historical experience of the revolutions of the early 20th century produced within all layers of Russian society a cautious skeptical or even negative attitude towards such protest forms.

Answers to the above-mentioned questions on the possibility of their personal participation show a low potential of radical protest participation of Russians now. Even in case of the activists who are most inclined to decisive actions, the possible share of involvement in radical forms of protest does not exceed 16%. The exception is the boundary effect between the radical and conventional forms of participation - involvement in active stance against any incorrect actions of the police: 50% of the activists and 27% of the population do not exclude the possibility of their participation in such actions.

There is a different story with the potential of forms of protest that are less cruel and more legitimate in the eyes of the population as of today. Thus, 46% of the activists and 31% of the population could participate in strikes, while 67% of the activists and 31% of the population could take part in rallies and demonstration.

If we look at the potential of conventional forms of political participation, in this case it is substantially higher than with the activists, especially, when it comes to participation in the activity of public organizations and political parties and to running for office in authorities. 83% of the activists and only 26% of the population could participate in the activity of such fundamental structures of civil society as public organizations, while 53% and 14% respectively in the activity of political parties. The meaning of these figures may be completely appraised, if we take into account the fact that the population (57%) and the activists (17%) named as the main reason for nonparticipation in public activities the absence of external organizing efforts. In a democratic society, such are made, first of all, by public organizations, as well as by political parties, from which the majority of the population of the country is alienated.

III. Participation in the Election Process as Indicator of the Activity of People

It seems that the appraisals by the population of the importance and possibilities of participation in elections are the most distressing figures for the fates of democracy and the prospects of the establishment of civil society in Russia. The equal share of the population - 46% - considers elections as useful and useless instruments of influence on authorities and on the affairs of the country. In the other words, if the overwhelming majority of the activists (80%) believe that through their participation in elections they may influence the decision-making and the course of politics in the country, those among the population who share the same views are less than a half.

Unlike many Western countries, neither the population, nor the activists consider the meaning of elections as the main way of protection of their interests. For the population, unquestionably the prevailing meaning of elections is an opportunity to express their confidence (support) or their lack of confidence (protest) to politicians and state authorities, while for the activists, in addition to the same meaning, participation in elections has such important citizenship meanings as participation in the formation of authorities and politics conducted by them, support of a political party and the solution of public problems. According to the appraisal of these factors, the activists exceed the remaining population by an average of three times.

Thus, it becomes obvious that the population considers participation in elections not so much as a channel of involvement in the preparation and adoption of managerial solutions or as an instrument of dialog with authorities and agreement of interests and course of local, regional, and national politics, but rather as a way to express their support or protest to authorities and politicians. This explains a high potential of the protest voting of the population, which shows in such forms as absenteeism, voting against all candidates and casting votes in favor of parties opposing authorities and candidates. A growth of absenteeism causes a most serious concern with politicians and analysts.

Nevertheless, as of today participation in elections is the most real way of the participation of people in socio-political processes. If we rate elections according to the degree of the participation of people (including both the activists and the population), we will obtain the following hierarchy of elections of various levels.

Table 4. Participation in elections of various levels (% those who said that they participate)

Elections Past Elections Upcoming Elections
The activists Population The activists Population
Elections of the President of Russia 98% 95% 99% 98%
Elections to the State Duma 93% 84% 96% 88%
Elections of the Mayor of a city 87% 81% 94% 87%
Elections of the Governor of an oblast 85% 76% 87% 82%
Elections to the Legislative Assembly of an oblast 77% 67% 81% 74%
Elections to the Legislative Assembly of a city/rayon 72% 72% 90% 80%

People consider elections of the President and the State Duma as most significant. They view the elections of the mayor of a city as more significant than the elections of the governor of an oblast. Elections to the legislative assembly of a city/rayon or to the legislative assembly of an oblast complete this list.

The activists show a somewhat higher percentage of participation - actual and potential participation - in all types of elections, but there is only a slight difference.

In view of this, within this research the respondents who said that they were not going to vote at the upcoming federal (the State Duma and the President of the country) and local elections have revealed the motives of this position. For the population, the main explanatory reason for nonparticipation in elections is the appraisal of the institute of elections themselves and their own voice as useless («elections will not change anything in my life» and «my voice doesn't mean anything») and conviction that the affairs of the country (region, rayon, city) are actually governed by the shady structures, the oligarchs, and the mafia. This generates a lack of confidence that elections are honest, and their results are not falsified, and the absence of worthy candidates who would attract them.

Although the sample of the activists who do not desire to participate in the upcoming elections turned out to be insufficient due to a small share of absentees among this category of Russian people, the main reason for their nonparticipation in elections is their conviction that the affairs of the country are actually governed by the same shady structures, the oligarchs, and the mafia. The second and third explanatory reasons are a lack of confidence in the honesty of elections and in the fact that their voice means anything. The skeptical appraisal of participation in elections made by people of the country was confirmed by the fact that 37% of the activists (18% partially) and 66% of the population (15% partially) agree that the voice of a single elector does not mean anything.

IV. People and Power

The opinion of some of both the activists and the population about the oligarch criminal character of the regime established in the country is quite justified, if we remember the tight alliance between the corrupted bureaucrats and the enterprising dealers who stop at nothing during the course of reforms and privatization in the first half of the 90's during the reforms, as well as the actual confiscation of savings from the overwhelming majority of the population as a result of the financial economic policy of the government, which in particular produced the hyperinflation and default of August 1998. Since then the «wild capitalism» emerged in the economy, according to George Soros, and, according to Igor Klyamkin and Lilia Shevtsova, the «elected monarchy» in politics have been improved noticeably. Nevertheless, a number of features still remain.

In many aspects, this explains the level of confidence to nearly all authorities, law-enforcement agencies, courts, politicians and even to trade unions, which is low and very similar, with rare exceptions, for both segments of society. Although it is even lower with the population than with the activists.

The level of confidence shown by the population exceeds 50% only in relation to the President of Russia (78% of respondents trust him), the army (55%) and the church (53%). More than half of the polled activists are inclined to trust not only to the above-mentioned institutions, but also to the Central Elections Committee of Russia (57%), to regional and local representative/legislative and executive bodies of the subjects of the Federation. In general, the level of confidence with both segments of society does not reach as far as 60% (except for confidence in the President of Russia) to all federal, regional and local institutions, law-enforcement agencies and politicians.

Further, the appraisals of the activists and of the population differ substantially, especially when they appraise confidence in oblast, city and rayon authorities.

Table 5. Rating of confidence in various organizations, bodies of power and governance among the population (% of those who have confidence)

  The activists Population
President of Russia 78% 74%
Army 55% 57%
Church 53% 55%
Government 53% 48%
Governor of an oblast 53% 54%
Central Election Committee 45% 57%
Administration of an oblast/kray 44% 56%
Administration of a city 44% 54%
Council of the Federation 40% 47%
Legislative Assembly of an oblast 39% 57%
Prosecutor's Office 39% 47%
State Duma 38% 43%
Election Committee of an oblast 37% 54%
Legislative Assembly of a city/rayon 36% 55%
Court 36% 48%
Deputy of the State Duma 33% 45%
Deputy of the Municipal Legislative Assembly 32% 48%
Deputy of the Oblast Legislative Assembly 31% 48%
Police 32% 36%
Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FITUR) 24% 40%
Liberal Trade Unions 15% 24%

Comparison with the findings of the previously conducted researches shows that the level of confidence in all authorities, the army, the church has dropped considerably during the last 10 years.

It is most probable that this lack of confidence in authorities and answers to a number of other questions reveal people's appraisal of their situation (their role) in the political system. The fact that 35% of the activists (21% agree partially) and 72% of the population (15% agree partially) agree that the opinions of people as themselves do not influence what authorities do confirms the fact that this appraisal is not high.

V. Value Orientations: Human Rights and Values of Freedom

In many aspects, the events in our country that have taken place during the last fifteen years of reforms were inspired by the intention to turn the homo soveticus into a citizen enjoying full rights who shares the values of freedom, of personal responsibility, and is ready to self-organize in a civil society so that using his own efforts in the economic area and political participation he can create quality conditions for his own living and determine the main parameters of internal politics at all levels of governance in the country. This research allows to give a certain idea of to what extent these goals have been reached.

The findings of our and a number of other Russian and foreign researches show that, in the most general form, the value orientations of Russians break down into three groups: liberal, centrist and left ones. Answers to a series of questions give every reason to conclude that in relation to the vision of the role of the state in the social and economic areas both segments of society similarly gravitate most probably toward the positions of the left: 70% of the activists and 70% of the population believe that the state should provide for the minimal living conditions to all; 66% of the activists and 69% of the population suppose that the majority of industries or the strategic industries of the economy should be state-run. Answering the first question, 14% of the activists and 14% of the population equally revealed the liberal orientations, and answering the second question, so did 3% and 2% respectively.

The validity of these conclusions proceeds from the answers to a number of other questions. For example, the same share of these two segments of our society (14% each) believes that Russia in its development should orient to the industrialized countries of the West, while 76% of the activists and 73% of the population are convinced that Russia has its own special way to go. How does this special way mean? First of all, it means that there should be more order than freedom - this position is shared by 67% of the activists and 76% of the population; a strong leader is more necessary than democracy - 68% of the activists and 73% of the population agree with this.

In addition, attitude toward freedom is not so clear as it may seem based on the above-mentioned answer. We should start with the fact that 68% of the activists and 62% of the population, to a particular extent, consider themselves free. Furthermore, the right of freedom and personal inviolability are, to various extents, important for 99% of the activists and for 97% of the population. In the other words, the values of freedom, especially personal freedom, are interiorized by the overwhelming majority of Russian people.

Further, more than two-thirds (68%) of polled Russians believe that the right of freedom and personal inviolability is now observed.

It is understood that attitude toward various types of freedoms is not the same. Russians value the freedom to go abroad, the free choice of whether to join or not to join political parties at one's own discretion, and the freedom of entrepreneurship least of all. They value the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience and the freedom to choose the place of residence most of all. And only then follow the freedom of ownership and free elections. Consequently, on average political freedoms give way to personal and socio-economic freedoms. However, the activists in general value political freedoms more than the population.

An ambiguous structure of the value orientations of Russian people is seen from their attitude toward the main political parties. Presently, the left parties are most popular - 28% of the activists and 22% of the population share the positions of the CPRF, another 10% of the activists and 4% of the population share the positions of «Trudovaya Rossiya». The positions of the left liberal party «Yabloko» are shared by 20% of the activists and 10% of the population. The right liberal views - these are supporters of «Soyuz Pravykh Sil» - attract 19% of the activists and 8% of the population. The centrist positions of «Yedinaya Rossiya» are shared by 23% of the activists and 25% of the population. Lastly, the nationalist charismatic LDPR is attractive for only 6% of the activists and for 11% of the population. Thus, the party orientations divide Russian people, with a slight shift to the left, into the three above-mentioned main groups of political orientations that are not much difference from one another.

The values of the rights and freedoms of people take a special place in civil society. One of the most precise behavioristic expressions of these values is participation in the activity of right-protecting organizations. Such ones make up 18% among the activists, while only 1% among the population. Although such participation increases among the population at a somewhat higher rate than among the activists.

The problems of the right of people take a considerable place among the problems that might inspire respondents to participate in collective actions. It first of all concerns the activists. The first place is taken by violations of civil rights. This problem would inspire 25% of the activists and 14% of the population to take political actions, the second by violations of socio-economic rights that would inspire the participation of 23% of the activists and 9% of the population. The third and fourth places are shared by the problem of women's rights - this problem would inspire the participation of 15% of the activists и 4% of the population, and the problem of ethnic minorities - this problem would inspire the participation of 16% of the activists and 3% of the population. The problem of protection of the other rights would far weaker inspire the political participation of Russian people.

The political participation of a person and his appraisals are also influenced by his personal experience related to the violations of the rights of people. Some 60% of the activists and 41% of the population encountered the infringement of their rights. The first place is taken by violations of socio-economic rights, the second by violations of labor rights, and the third by violations of personal rights. According to their appraisal, people encounter violations of the other rights - the right to a favorable environment, election and other political rights, the right to healthcare and medical aid, the right to information and other rights - far less frequently.

In addition, on average nearly 60% of both the activists and the entire population believe that in our country human rights are generally observed. The exception is the right to a favorable environment, which is observed in the opinion of only 27% of the activists and 34% of the population. The appraisal of the level of observance or nonobservance of the rights of people is influenced not only by the personal experience of respondents, but also by the coverage of the condition of observance of these rights made by the mass media, and the degree of the personal concern and significance of particular rights of people for respondents. This explains, for example, the low appraisal of the condition of the ecological rights in our country.

VI. Role of public organizations and political parties in raising the population's activity

As it can be presumed from depth interviews with leaders of public organizations and the results of population's and activists' survey the public organizations and political parties in today's Russia are predominantly self-sufficient and are little interested in involving a wide circle of people in their activities.

As a rule, political parties make appeals to the population only during election campaigns. A number of such parties is not big - 7-8. A major purpose of these appeals is as follows:

Table 6. Purpose of political parties' appeals to the population

  Activists Population
Appeal to vote 29% 44%
Invitation to a meeting 40% 28%
Collection of signatures 28% 29%
Invitation to a meeting 20% 9%
Cash donations 8% -

Public organizations and authorities did not often apply to the people for assistance or invite them to participate during the last year. Such an appeal was made to only one of the five respondents and each second among the activists who are more actively involved in the public activities.

The most active are Veteran Unions, trade unions, ecological organizations and animal protecting groups. Rather passive in working with the population are civil right protecting organizations and associations, sport committees, anti-drug committees, youth organizations, cultural and various charity organizations.

85% among the activists replied to our appeal, there are a bit more than half of these among the population - 54%.

Local authorities appealed to the people very seldom - only to each 11-th of the respondents under survey and to each third of the activists. A major purpose of local authorities' appeal was participation in the subbotnik, in voting, invitation to a meeting, collection of signatures or invitation to a street demonstration.

The predominant number of people, both activists and ordinary citizens, say that they showed a positive response to these appeals.

The highest activity among other groups is shown by various religious organizations as well as District Communal Departments (Housing Operation Offices). If three fourths among the activists showed a positive response to these appeals there were 43% of these among the population. Reasons for refusal - no confidence in the appealing organization, absence of interest on the part of the organization itself, lack of time.

Parties, public organizations and local authorities have rather identical methods of work with the population and activists. It is mostly a personal or telephone talk with representatives for the activists and a letter to the mail box, a slogan with the appeal and announcements in the doorway for the population. It is only ecologists that invented several PR actions in protection of rare animals in Internet which attracted a lot of young people to these actions.

VII. Activists and population - similar and different features

1. Socio-democratic differences between activists and population

The population is statistically very much different from activists with regard to most socio-demographic features.

There is a certain closing in as far as shares of men and women among the activists are concerned, not so great in absolute values but statistically very important. Therefore we can ascertain that women show somewhat higher activity than men in the political and social sphere. Yet the share of men who occupy elective office in federal power agencies and even regional power agencies is higher than the average figure among the population. Thus, the activity of many women remains on the level of local initiatives and social work with the population and does not find any outlet into the sphere of politics and government.

Table 7. Sex differences between the population and activists

  Activists Population
Male 46% 44%
Female 54% 56%
TOTAL 450 945

There are virtually no people among the activists with the 7-year education and less (0,0%), the share of people with secondary education is much lower than among the population (8% among the activists and 26% among the population) and the share of people with high education is three times higher (69% among activists and 22% among the population).

It may be presumed that the higher level of education, given all the other level grounds, creates some advantages for activists in their professional, public and political activities.

Table 8. Educational Differences between Population and Activists

  Activists Population
7 years and less 0% 9%
Incomplete Secondary 0% 9%
Secondary 8% 26%
Secondary Vocational 18% 27%
Incomplete High 5% 6%
High 69% 22%
TOTAL 450 945

Statistically significant are differences between activists and population in their attitude to labor activities. The share of working people is much higher in the activists' sample (82% among the activists and 58% among the population), while the shares of pensioners, invalids, unemployed, housewives and students are lower compared with the population.

The conclusion is that political and social activity of people has more chances to show itself in the conditions of regular labor activities.

Table 9. Different attitudes of population and activists to labor activities

  Activists Population
Working 82% 58%
Temporary unemployed 1% 1%
Pensioner, invalid 11% 26%
House keeping 1% 5%
Unemployed 2% 5%
Student 3% 5%
TOTAL 450 945

Activists have significantly less time because they consider themselves occupied for a larger number of hours a week. The most significant are differences among the busiest respondents. Thus, 40% of the activists and only 24% of the population are busy less than 10 hours a week while 32% and 24%, respectively, are busy from 11 to 20 hours.

Table 10. Differences between population and activists in the amount of free time during the week

  Activists Population
Under 10 hours 40% 24%
11-20 hours 32% 24%
21-35 hours 13% 16%
36-49 hours 3% 9%
Over 49 hours a week 3% 9%
Difficult to answer/Refusal 10% 17%
TOTAL 450 945

Thus, the absence of free time is not a reason for low social activity. On the contrary, activists are busier and have less free time.

Statistically important are income differences between activists and the population: activists' incomes have higher values than those of the rest of the population. Table 11 shows there are virtually no representatives of the population who consider that their income is higher than the average, while there are 4 % of the activists who think so; those who believe their income is a bit higher than the average - 10% among the population and 17% among the activists; those who believe their income to be equal to the average - 34% among the activists and only 25% among the population. Consequently, the share of activists is lower than that of the population in the categories of lower and much lower income. Moreover, activists more rarely than the population find it difficult to estimate their income (3% among the activists and 5% among the population) which testifies to greater confidence of activists in their income and higher ability to estimate this income.

The social position of activists brings to most of them quite noticeable increase of income in comparison with the population, i.e. activity is converted to the improvement of financial well-being.

Table 11. Differences between population and activists in the level of income

  Activists Population
Much higher than average 4% 0%
A bit higher than average 17% 10%
The same as average 34% 25%
A bit lower than average 25% 29%
Much lower than average 18% 30%
Difficult to reply 3% 5%
TOTAL 450 945

In addition to a higher level of income, on the average, activists show more confidence in their ability to maintain the current level of life which either grew for most of them, or remained on the same level for the last 5 years.

Statistically important are differences between activists and population in their attitude to the possible loss of the main source of income: activists, on the average, show more confidence in the idea that their level of income will help them overcome this difficult life situation than the population.

Table 12. Differences between population and activists as to what the loss of the main source of income means to them

  Activists Population
It is necessary to look for a new source urgently 42% 55%
I can survive for some time 44% 31%
I can survive for quite a long time 5% 3%
It will not impact my way of life 5% 3%
Difficult to answer/ Refusal 5% 8%
TOTAL 450 945

Activists, on the whole, replied more frequently that they had managed to raise the living standards for the last 5 years than representatives of population. The living standards improved for the last 5 years in 28% of activists and only 20% of population; they deteriorated in 30% of activists and in 39% of population. A larger share of activists as compared with the population managed to maintain their living standards for the last 5 years (40% of activists and 36% of population).

Table 13. Differences between population and activists in the living standards changes for the last 5 years

  Activists Population
Improved a bit 4% 2%
Improved significantly 24% 18%
Remained on the same level 40% 36%
Worsened a bit 20% 23%
Worsened significantly 10% 16%
Difficult to answer/ Refusal 3% 4%
TOTAL 450 945

A better financial position, better living conditions and greater confidence in the ability to maintain these living standards in the future are reflected in the activists being more satisfied with the success of their life than the population.

According to data of Table 14 82% of activists and only 60% of population estimate their life as very successful or successful in many respects. It is also notable that 1% of activists and 5% of population estimate their life as a total failure; activists less frequently find it difficult to answer this question (7% of activists and 12% of population). Therefore estimates of life success are higher among activists than among the population.

Table 14. Differences between population and activists as to estimates of life success

  Activists Population
Very successful 9% 3%
AS a whole successful 73% 57%
Rather a failure 11% 23%
Quite a failure 1% 5%
Difficult to answer/ Refusal 7% 12%
TOTAL 450 945

Comparison of socio-demographic characteristics of activists and population allows to make a conclusion that activists hold higher social positions in our society than representatives of the population that are not referred to this category. These higher social positions held by activists promote a higher level of income, greater confidence in ability to maintain material wealth and also higher estimates of life success, i.e. higher living standards and social wealth than among most of the citizens.

There are differences between activists and population as to the number of dwellers in a residential areas - the share of activists is much higher in megapolises and large cities. As Table 15 shows the share of activists exceeds the share of the population in cities with population of over 1 ml, from 500 thousand to 1 ml and from 250 thousand to 500 thousand while the share of activists is lower than that of the population in settlements where the population is under 20 thousand.

Table 15. Differences between the population and activists as to the number of dwellers in residential areas

  Activists Population
Over 1 ml 24% 17%
500-999 thousand 20% 13%
250-499 thousand 14% 10%
100-249 thousand 13% 6%
50-99 thousand 8% 12%
20-49 thousand 3% 6%
Under 20 thousand 18% 37%
TOTAL 450 945

As Table 16 shows the share of those who lived most of their life in the kray, oblast of rayon center is higher among the activists that among the population while the share of those who lived In Moscow and Saint-Petersburg and in rural areas is lower among the activists than among the population. It is characteristic that activists find it difficult to answer the related question than the population. It looks as if some of them would not like to disclose where they lived most of their lives because this information can jeopardize their present position.

It can be concluded that it is the citizens who have lived most of their life in the province but try to move to large cities and settle there or live in regional administrative centers and can show their activity there that become the most socially and politically active. It is therefore necessary to give more attention to search and activity of the activists in the kray, oblast and rayon centers of Russia as compared with megapolises and rural areas.

Table 16. Differences between population and activists as to where they lived most of their life

  Activists Population
Moscow, Saint-Petersburg 6% 9%
Oblast/kray center 37% 26%
Rayon center 25% 23%
Town settlement 10% 9%
Rural area 19% 33%
Difficult to answer/ Refusal 3% 1%
TOTAL 450 945

One of the indicators of the respondents' social activity may be also their access to Internet. In the modern Russian conditions more socially active individuals more often have such access and use it for communication, recreation and getting information for their professional activities. And on the contrary, less socially active individuals more often do not see any necessity in having access to Internet.

Most of activists in Russia do not have any access to Internet (52%) while the share of the respondents like this among the population is one and a half times higher (83%). 49% of activists and 15% of the population have an access to Internet. Thus, activists have an access to Internet much more often than the population.

Table 117. Differences between activists and population as to the access to Internet

  Activists Population
Yes, only in the office 24% 9%
Yes, only at home 11% 3%
Yes, in the office and at home 14% 3%
No 52% 83%
Difficult to answer/ Refusal 0% 2%
TOTAL 450 945

2. Differences between activists and population as to values and social and political activities

The analysis of the results received showed that these two groups - activists and population - differ greatly in almost all the issues. Activists show much more interest to political and public life of the society than the population of Russia in general. They watch TV more often and more regularly, both Russian and foreign channels, listen to the news on the radio, read local and central press.

Activists discuss political issues with the family twice more often (59% against 29% for the population) as well as with friends, neighbors, colleagues (74% and 33%, respectively).

If 72% of the population see their role in solution of their district problems as participation in elections and tracing the work of elected deputies and directors the activists are more active and conducive to self-organization for solution of these or those problems of their town, district and the country as a whole.

Two thirds of activists participated in the election campaign in this or that capacity, mostly in the recent years. Only 16% of the population participated in election campaigns and half of them did it over five years ago.

Almost half of the activists (49%) participated in meetings, demonstrations and matches, mostly in the last three years. Only 7% among the population took part in such events, two thirds of them - 5-10 years ago and earlier.

17% of activists and only 2% of the population under survey took part in pickets and strikes, and the time difference was similar: two thirds of activists took part in pickets and strikes in the last three years while only 20% of the population participated in meetings and strikes over 5 years ago.

Individual forms of protest are not virtually used. Even among the activists only 2% of the respondents participated in these forms of protest. They mainly protested at their own enterprises or schools.

The aims of these protests are both political and economic: payment of salaries and benefits, protection of rights, protests against mine closures as well as aid to public organizations, social and ecological problems, standing up for veterans and providing help to them, improvement of people's living standards, meetings and communication within the public organizations, raising utility payments, educational issues, organization of the youth's recreation, advocating and campaigning, other publicly significant problems.

Only 4% of ordinary citizens and over one third of activists (38%) applied personally to mass media and power authorities. Ordinary citizens were usually motivated either by enterprise directors or trade unions; activists had a much wider circle of initiators for such appeals - from relatives and friends, house or rayon dwellers to various political parties (first of all Communist Party, Union of Right Forces), local power authorities, deputies, women's and other public organizations.

Activists more often make cash donations than ordinary citizens (53% against 11%). In this case religious and public organizations, parties, charity organizations and local power authorities act as organizers of money donations collection. The main purposes of collecting cash donations are aid to low income layers of the population, charity/humanitarian aid, aid to natural disaster victims, and restoration/aid to churches.

Activists bring claims to court to protect group interests in various socially significant issues 10 times more often than other citizens.

Two thirds of activists and only 55% of the population, as whole, undertook the organizing role and spoke to the people calling them to solve these or those problems. 70% of activists and only 12% of ordinary citizens attend meetings arranged by public organizations.

58% of activists participate in the activities of political parties, mostly in the last five years, while only 10% of the population, as a whole, participated in the parties' activities, and two thirds of these did it over 10 years ago.

18% of activists and only 1% of ordinary citizens take part in the activities of civil right protecting organizations. The same picture is observed in the people's participation in other organizations' activities.

Table 18. Participation in the work of public organizations (% of those participating)

Public organizations Activists Population
Ecological 14% 2% (7 times less)
Youth 38% 14% (2.5 times less)
Veteran Unions 17% 2% (8 times less)
Local self-governing bodies 26% 5% (5 times less)
Charity organizations 34% 2% (14 times less)
Other public organizations 32% 3% (11 times less)
Religious organizations 14% 3% (5 times less)
Clubs by interest 18% 7% (2.5 times less)

Almost one third of activists once occupied elected office in power authorities (29% against 2% for the population), and another 20% ran for elected office but were not elected. Among the activists who occupied elected office 5% were elected to federal power authorities, 9% - to oblast power authorities, 78% - to city or district power authorities, 5% - to local organizations and 2% - to elected office in enterprises and schools. Among 2% of the citizens who once occupied elected office, 79% were elected in the Soviet times and mainly worked in local power authorities - city or district (51%) and organizations in the place of their residence (39%).

14% of the activists held official posts in power authorities and one third of them still hold them. 52% of activists and 13% of the whole population had experience of working in the Comsomol and the Communist Party. Most of them had this experience in the Soviet times. 38% of activists and only 3% of the population occupied some posts in various public organizations. Activists, in the most part, still occupy them while ordinary respondents mainly occupied these posts in the Soviet times.

The percentage of people who were once elected into house committees is very small. Evidently, this form of public life has not yet widespread in the Russian society.

Activists are to a greater extent ready to participate in various forms of public and political activities.

Table 19. Readiness to participate in various actions (% of those who would be ready to participate)

  Activists Population
Collection of humanitarian aid 87% 60%
Collection of cash donations 85% 57%
Activities of public organizations 83% 26%
Signing letters, appeals 82% 64%
Election campaign 78% 35%
Collective claims to court 68% 51%
Meetings, demonstrations 67% 31%
Work of political parties 53% 14%
Counteracting militia 50% 27%
Initiative to set up a public organization 48% 7%
Strike 46% 31%
Run for public self-governing bodies 41% 9%
Run for city power bodies/district power bodies 37% 8%

And if ordinary citizens are ready to participate in various forms of public and political life the activists are ready to step up as organizers of setting up public organizations and run for power authorities of different levels.

It is the leadership qualities most of all that distinguishes activists from ordinary citizens the bulk of whom is waiting for someone to organize them (56%) or considers there were no problems that concerned them personally (35%).

The reasons that could make people take part in the public and political life are the same among activists and ordinary citizens but the incentive for these two categories of people is different.

The activists are also different in their confidence that the situation in the city or district can be changed through their participation in meetings, strikes, signing appeals and petitions. The activists consider the most important are participation in elections (80%), activities of political parties (66%) and non-governmental organizations (60%). But both activists and ordinary citizens object to participation in military clashes (65% of activists and 60% of the population), blocking roads (57% activists and 69% of the population), acts of civil disobedience (58% of activists and 68% of the population), although both note that they have to come across violation of their rights and interests (60% of activists and 41% of ordinary citizens). The most frequent reasons for infringement of violation of rights mentioned by the respondents are backward wages, housing and communal issues, labor disputes and militiamen's illegal acts.

Activists make attempts to implement some idea or project much more often than ordinary citizens (48% against 10%) although both were helped by friends, colleagues, representatives of the community the problems of which the respondents tried to solve, members of their families and, partially, local leadership. Activists managed to get a greater extent of support from public organizations, political parties and profit organizations while ordinary citizens failed to get such support. However, both activists and ordinary citizens managed to achieve the ultimate goal of the project (88% and 86%, respectively).

3. Political preferences shown by activists and population as a whole

Political preferences of activists and population are statistically very much different.

These differences can be found when comparing activists' and population's replies as to how dear to them these or those party positions are.

Table 20. Differences between activists and population as to how dear political parties' positions are to them (The table provides summarized percentage of replies about the position of each political party: «Very close» or «Rather close»)

Political parties Activists Population
RF Communist party 28% 22%
«Single Russia» 33% 25%
«Yabloko» 20% 10%
«Union of Right Forces» 19% 8%
Russian Liberal democrats 6% 11%
«Working Russia» 10% 4%

At the present time there is no political party in Russia for both activists and population which would be preferred by most of the respondents. Activists and population sympathize with all the parties represented in the survey question list. But there are more advocates of all the political parties among activists than among the population (except for Liberal Democrats). It is most likely the consequence of the fact that activists take part in the activities of virtually all the political parties than the rest of the population. The only exception is Liberal Democratic Party the views of which are dearer to a large share of the population than among the activists; that is likely to be connected with the populist activities carried out by this party and its leader V. V. Zhirinovsky. The last two hypotheses require further research.

It can also be noted that for the RF Communist party and «Single Russia» differences in % of those who adhere to their positions are lower than in the case of the other parties. And it is these very parties that have the best chances to maintain their factions in the RF State Duma after 2003 elections. This connection requires further research.

4. Internal structure of activists' group

The group of activists is not uniform in its preferences and estimates. On the whole, the activists differ greatly from the population but there are two definite subgroups within the group of activists that can be conditionally called as a group of professional activists and a group of non-professional activists.

Professional activists may include those who were deputies during the period of data collection, ran for deputies of various levels, as well as those who received material incentives and other wealth from public activities. There were 194 professional activists in the sample which made about 43% of its total volume.

Non-professional activists may include those who do not occupy elected office in power authorities and did not run for this office as well as those who do not receive any material wealth from public activities. There were 253 non-professional activists among the respondents in the sample which is about 56% of the total volume.

As to occupation the significant differences between professional and non-professional activists were observed in the cases when the activities were connected with leadership or representation of interests. Specifically, professional activists are more active than non-professional ones in signing collective letters to mass media or power authorities, in negotiations with power authorities, applying to court for protection of group interests, speaking before citizens and calling them for solution of these or those problems, attending meetings organized by public organizations. Yet professional and non-professional activists participate equally - frequently or infrequently - in subbotniks and voskresniks, in sending letters to mass media and power authorities, in election campaigns, in strikes, pickets, capturing buildings and blocking motor and railway roads, meetings, marches, demonstrations and other mass actions of protest or standing up for their rights.

Professional activists took part in activities of youth organizations and local self-government more often in the last 12 months than non-professional ones. As to activities of other organizations, official and unofficial unions of citizens, professional and non-professional activists took part in them equally often or equally seldom.

As to political preferences the positions of professional and non-professional activists are not much different from the statistical point of view.

2 It was first revealed in the comparative research conducted by Verba Sidney, Nie Norman N., Kim Jae-on. Participation and Political Equality. A Seven Nation Comparison. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1978. Afterwards, these conclusions have been confirmed by other comparative and country researches.

3 Unpaid work on Saturdays.

4 Unpaid work on Sundays.

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Автор: В.И.Васильев, А.Е.Постников - ИРИС
Форма выпуска: Книга

Первое издание ИРИС - книга В. И. Васильева и А. Е. Постникова «Путеводитель по избирательной кампании: пособие для кандидатов в депутаты, избирательных объединений и избирательных блоков». Это популярный комментарий законодательства о выборах депутатов Государственной Думы. В книгу включены рисунки популярного карикатуриста А. Бильжо. Издание предназначено для кандидатов в депутаты, организаторов избирательных кампаний, избирательных объединений, избирательных блоков и иных участников выборов.

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