Gaidar Forum experts analyze political trends and share forecasts

The traditional expert discussion, Political Trends: Assessment, Analysis, Forecast, took place by the end of 2018 Gaidar Forum. All the experts from 2017 came back this year, to continue a consistent dialogue, discuss the accuracy of last year’s forecasts and highlight some of the political trends of recent years.

All the experts without exception spoke about the key domestic political trends in rather alarming tones, in particular the continued decline in the living standards and quality of life of a large part of the population. In foreign politics, they expressed concern over the persisting tensions in relations with the West and the intensification of isolationist sentiments. On the other hand, there was a certain revival of political life, a growth of protest activity and an increase in the degree of confrontation within elite groups.

A expert vote recognized the reduction of the military presence in Syria, the resolution of the political conflict with Turkey, and a number of personnel decisions as successful moves by the Russian Government.

Professor Vladimir Gelman of the European University at St. Petersburg does not believe 2018 will be a year of change; rather a preparation for change amid growing isolationism and external mistrust towards Russia.

Professor of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences Tatyana Vorozheikina cited the Carnegie Foundation’s research on public sentiment, which suggests a demand for change, such as raising living standards and social justice.

Journalist Andrei Kolesnikov, Head of the Russian Internal Politics and Political Institutions program at Carnegie Moscow Center, regretted that the modern political discourse boils down to “anything but discussing substantive problems.” According to the expert, “all the endless talk of robotization and digitization, with real problems looming, sound more like attempts to change the subject.”

Regarding the general development forecast, all the experts agreed on a conservative scenario, albeit with reservations. They did not have serious doubt in the predictability of the presidential election outcome; at the same time, they suggested during the discussion that, once a new political cycle begins after the elections, events that are difficult to predict today are highly likely to occur. According to the moderator, Perspektiva Fund President Leonid Gozman, the 2021 State Duma elections will be accompanied by high political turbulence, as the voting will presumably lead to significant changes in the existing political system and the elites’ configuration. Up until that time, only minor economic policy adjustments are possible, which are unlikely to narrow the gap between people’s expectations and the real level of welfare, experts believe.

The session was also attended by political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin, journalist and writer Denis Dragunsky, head of the Department of Social and Cultural Studies at Levada Center Alexei Levinson, Professor of the Higher School of Economics Nikolai Petrov, and President of the INDEM Foundation Georgy Satarov.

The organizers include the Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Gaidar Institute) and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR).

The program outline is available at the forum website.

Participation is free; preliminary registration is required.

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