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Ballot boxes, not barricades: Russians seek change through peaceful democratic means – poll

Ballot boxes, not barricades: Russians seek change through peaceful democratic means – poll
Russians, who want life in their country to change for the better, favor voting in elections and signing petitions and dislike taking part in street protests and donating money for causes, a new opinion poll shows.

The poll, conducted by the Levada Center, offered people various venues for pursuing changes in public life and asked whether or not they personally were prepared to take them. Finding a party with a program aligned with personal preferences and voting for it was the most popular option, with over 70 percent supporting this path. Signing petitions and open letters was chosen by 53 percent while lodging complaints with the authorities was favored by 49 percent.

While Russians are prepared to express their opinion, they don’t seem eager to put more significant effort into their political activities. The least popular way to seek change in the country is donating money to political or public organizations – 91 percent responded they are not willing to do it. Almost equally unattractive is the option to personally run for office and enact change, which was seen as undesirable by 90 percent of the people polled.

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Other options rejected by over a half of Russians were taking part in street protest (77 percent against), volunteering for a political cause (76 percent against) and becoming a paid employee of a public organization (69 percent against).

The apathetic attitude was less pronounced in smaller cities with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, compared to both big cities and rural towns or areas. There, a larger share of people said they were willing to work for a public organization, paid or otherwise. Muscovites, however, are more willing to run for office than their counterparts in other Russian communities, with 16 percent saying they could do it.

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Younger and middle-aged people expectedly were more favorable to use action-based strategies to change life compared to older people, but the same was true of voting and petition signing, indicating that the Russian youth simply have a more active stance in life.

Twice as many young adults said they were prepared to donate for political causes than people over 55 years, but it was still only 13 percent. Apparently, crowdfunded politics will remain a niche in Russia for some time.

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