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Consensus and continuity : the use of ideology in Putin's Russia Resmini, Fabio

Abstract

The literature on Russian politics has devoted limited attention to the role of ideational factors in the development of the post-Soviet political system. The aim of this work is to bring ideology back in the discussion on the evolution of the regime under Vladimir Putin. This work argues that Putin’s regime has used ideology as a political tool to achieve two main goals: to foster consensus and to assure regime continuity beyond leadership change. Consensus was imposed around patriotism and through the figure of a super partes president. The emphasis on patriotic rhetoric allowed the Kremlin to gain control over the political spectrum and provided an ideational backing to the centralization of political power. Regime continuity was promoted by increasing the ideational capital of the presidential party – United Russia – in a threefold strategy: the formulation of “sovereign democracy,” the formalization of intra-party wings, and the adoption of “Russian conservatism” as an ideological label. This process to endow the party of power with an ideology marked a temporary decline in the regime’s personalist component and a permanent strengthening of its party element. Because ideology was formulated post-hoc to consolidate power, its coherence and persistence are subordinated to its utilitarian purpose. The result is an ideological product that sacrifices coherence for political expediency and discards certain ideological tenets when they fail to achieve their goal (sovereign democracy) or when they are no longer needed (Russian conservatism).

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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