- About the book
DetailsUsing the Russian president’s major public addresses as the main source, Bo Petersson analyzes the legitimization strategies employed during Vladimir Putin’s third and fourth terms in office. The argument is that these strategies have rested on Putin’s highly personalized blend of strongman-image projection and presentation as the embodiment of Russia’s great power myth. Putin appears as the only credible guarantor against renewed weakness, political chaos, and interference from abroad—in particular from the US. After a first deep crisis of legitimacy manifested itself by the massive protests in 2011–2012, the annexation of Crimea led to a lengthy boost in Putin’s popularity figures. The book discusses how the Crimea effect is, by 2021, trailing off and Putin’s charismatic authority is increasingly questioned by opposition from Alexei Navalny, the effects of unpopular reforms, and poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, Russia is bound to head for a succession crisis as the legitimacy of the political system continues to be built on Putin’s projected personal characteristics and—now apparently waning—charisma, and since no potential heir apparent has been allowed on center stage. The constitutional reform of summer 2020 made it possible in theory for Putin to continue as president until 2036. Yet, this change did not address the Russian political system’s fundamental future leadership dilemma.
- The author
About the authorThe author:
Dr. Bo Petersson has been Professor of Political Science at the Department of Global Political Studies at Malmö University, Sweden, since 2011. Previously, he served as lecturer at Uppsala University and professor at Lund University. Petersson is a co-founder and co-director of the research platform “Russia and the Caucasus Regional Research” (RUCARR). He is a board member of The Swedish Society for the Study of Russia, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Swedish Network for European Studies in Political Science as well as the journals Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Journal of Intangible Heritage, and Nordisk Östforum. His previous books include National Self-Images and Regional Identities in Russia (Ashgate/Routledge 2001/2018); Stories about Strangers: Swedish Media Constructions of Socio-Cultural Risk (University Press of America 2006), Majority Cultures and the Everyday Politics of Ethnic Difference (ed. with Katharine Tyler, Palgrave 2008), The Sochi Predicament (ed. with Karina Vamling, Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2013), Crisis and Migration: Implications of the Eurozone Crisis for Perceptions, Politics, and Policies of Migration (ed. with Pieter Bevelander, Nordic Academic Press 2014), Playing Second Fiddle: Contending Visions of Europe’s Future Development (ed. with Hans-Åke Persson and Cecilie Stokholm Banke, Universus Academic Press 2015). His papers have appeared in, among other outlets, Cooperation and Conflict, Demokratizatsiya, East European Politics, Europe-Asia Studies, European Societies, and Problems of Post-Communism.
The author of the foreword:
Dr. J. Paul Goode is Associate Professor and McMillan Chair of Russian Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa.
Reviews“This is an important and much-needed study of a Putin regime which has evolved considerably over the years. Petersson, a leading expert on the Putin leadership and policy program, brings care and nuance to this rich study of Putin’s regime legitimization efforts in his third and fourth presidential terms. Those familiar with Petersson’s scholarship will not be surprised that this volume is carefully crafted, it is well-grounded in a compelling analysis of Putin’s public addresses, and it offers significant insights about contemporary Russian politics that go beyond the standard fare. Petersson effectively juxtaposes Putin’s regime-legitimating efforts with the profound challenges that confront the regime in its third decade. I am excited to add Petersson’s book to my personal library, and I expect to draw on this unique work for my own research needs. The Putin Predicament is a significant and welcome contribution to our scholarship.”—John P. Willerton, Professor of Political Science, University of Arizona, Tucson
“Bo Petersson, one of our leading scholars of national identity in Russia, provides an original and important interpretation of Vladimir Putin’s approach to gaining, holding, and exercising power. His central insight, that Putin’s claim to authority is based on his self-presentation as the guardian of Russia’s great power status, puts international conflict at the center of Putin’s political strategy and by extension of Russian politics more broadly. The implications for the Putin succession, for the legitimacy of the Russian state after Putin, and for Russia’s relations with other states are sobering.” —Paul D’Anieri, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of California
“This important book tackles some of the key issues in present-day Russian politics. Bo Petersson argues that the legitimacy of the Russian political system rests heavily on Putin’s personal popularity. The regime, though, now finds itself confronting the ‘Putin predicament’ wherein Putin’s charismatic authority appears to be waning in the face of new challenges, but no viable alternative leader has been allowed to emerge. Can the regime overcome this or is a succession crisis inevitable when Putin finally leaves office? This is a timely and up-to-date study that will be welcomed by all those interested in the political trajectory of contemporary Russia.”—Dr. Kenneth Wilson, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Dongguk University (Seoul)
- Additional Information