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"The myth of the impossibility of winning the opposition dispelled"
Petr Hanas analyzes the results of 2018 election campaigns of the year.
EastRussia continues to sum up the past year for the Far East. From a political point of view, 2018 was not an easy one. The main trend was the change in the influence of elite groups and the orientation of the population on the actual results of the work, says the teacher of the RANEPA Peter Khanas. In his opinion, these trends in the macro-region will only increase.
- A whole series of election campaigns took place in the Far East - they elected the heads of municipalities, deputies of regional parliaments, governors. What came as a surprise, and what was predictable?
- The results of election campaigns in the DFO in 2018 are more logical to divide into September and December. On the single voting day in September, elections for governors were held in six constituencies of the district. In Yakutia, the Amur and Magadan regions, they took place in Chukotka. In Khabarovsk and Primorye Territories, a second round of elections was appointed.
The most massive were elections in Yakutia. There they elected the head of the republic, 70 of people's deputies to the regional parliament, the head of Yakutsk and the deputies of the city duma. The 101 election campaign took place at the municipal level.
Aisen Nikolaev, who held the post of interim head of the republic and represents United Russia, won a landslide victory in the elections of the heads of the republic. He scored 71,4% with a turnout of 50,88%. In the last elections, in 2014, the turnout was 52%. A slight drop was determined by the weather - it was snowing on election day, it was chilly and windy. In the Amur region, Vasily Orlov, who was appointed by the president as acting head of the region, also won with a score of 55,6%.
In the Magadan region, Sergey Nosov won with the highest result in the DFO, he scored 81,56% of the votes of the voters. In Chukotka, the victory was won by the current governor, Roman Kopin. He managed to get 57,8% votes.
Khabarovsk Territory made a surprise. The current United States Governor Vyacheslav Shport, who led the region for nine years, lost the election. In the second round, as a result of an uneasy campaign, LDPR representative Sergey Furgal came to power in the region, gaining 67,6% of the vote.
In Primorye in September, by the decision of the regional election commission, the elections of the governor were declared invalid due to the impossibility of objectively summing up their results. Additional gubernatorial elections were postponed to December.
And what did we see at the end of the September elections? The dominance of the party "United Russia" is preserved, but to talk about the growth of its support is not necessary. In all territories, a protest vote is observed; either the number of mandates of representatives of opposition parties increases, or their support grows.
High social tensions, unresolved social and economic problems, the absence of visible real changes, and electoral fatigue from the governors led to the second round. So, in Khabarovsk Shport went for a third term.
- Let's take an example of Primorye in more detail.
- How has the situation evolved in the last five to seven years? On the one hand, in the Far East, and this is exclusively its peculiarity, there were cases of information blackmail, which boils down to the following: “If you want us to write about you well or not write at all, pay the money.” There appeared “sacred cows” that could not be touched — customers giving the main sums of money to the media budget or paying for events. The authorities began to use this, signing contracts for information services with the mass media.
In 2012, a new governor appeared in Primorye. Remember how Vladimir Miklushevsky came? On the wave of ultrahigh expectations, openness, informational as well. At first, he even wrote on Twitter. Super high expectations and the desire of the media to make money formed a super-positive agenda. The media went on about the situation, talking about future achievements, future investment projects.
Until 2013-2014, we lived in a traditional information society, where people are influenced by traditional communication channels: television, radio, newspapers. Many PR and political consultants still think in these categories, although the situation has changed a lot. By 2014, the share of people leading an active life on social networks has significantly increased, the mobile Internet has become widely available. There are new channels of communication.
- How much is this mass phenomenon? New sources of information uses mainly the younger generation?
- In the 2016 year, in preparation for the elections to the State Duma, I conducted studies that showed that 75 percent of Primorye citizens receive information about the life of the region via the Internet. There are other studies confirming these findings. Thus, the influence of traditional media has decreased.
But not only because of the widespread use of gadgets, but also because the information bubble, swelling, was extremely monotonous and did not correspond to reality. The authorities talked about the development of the region, about how the projects of the free port and the territories of priority development will fundamentally change our lives ... As part of our expectations, this was normal. But first, in the elites, and then the rest of society, discontent began to appear. All these factors overlapped, and gradually traditional media began to be perceived as a source of lies.
- Well, then through which channels did people receive basic information?
- In fact, by the middle of 2018, there were two of them: a social media channel and indirect information transfer, a rumor channel. Consumption of information has become a collective process through the exchange of views: everyone can write comments on the news post. This has become a kind of a special new form of social activity, within which any member of the community can share his own opinion, influence the opinions of “group mates”, join in discussions with them.
In the channel of rumors formed new leaders of public opinion. They became the sources of information transfer. In the traditional information society, they were also traditional - the plant director, the editor-in-chief, that is, the authorities they were guided by during political campaigns.
Now the leaders are those who are more actively involved in the transfer of information - the editors have been replaced by bloggers, plant directors are simple workers. Often they have a low level of political culture, cannot distinguish truthful information from deceitful, but, receiving a video from a friend from Thailand or Spain, make a fan distribution of content. So fakie go to the people - short, untrue, but extremely emotionally colored messages. They are negative, which generally corresponds to the state in which the person is. He trusts the information received, she motivates him to certain actions.
But this is characteristic not only of Primorye. The protest also accumulated in other territories where confidence in traditional media was undermined and the influence of new channels increased. Both in Primorye and Khabarovsk krai, the opposition successfully used sociological technologies of forming public opinion regarding the possibility of a second round. In fact, the “van with orchestra” allowed her to increase the activity of her electorate and sow hope of victory over the current government. At the same time, the current heads of regions could not oppose anything and “fell out” of the existing agenda. The inability to maintain direct contact with the population only reinforced this situation.
- What do traditional media do in this situation?
- The main thing is to learn to speak the truth, even though it may be difficult for various reasons. It is even possible, because of the desire of the speaker, to keep the situation in shade, to embellish the situation, and oversaturation or incorrect presentation also influences the result. As an example - in the initial stage of the election campaign in Primorye, when Kozhemyako’s surname appeared in the headline, it was interesting, but then it got boring, the messages were simply not read, I had to invent something.
SOFA OR BULLETIN
- How did all this affect the election results?
- In fact, the Primorsky Territory has always been protest. It's just that this protest was inactive or not at all active. And this is what happened here: numerous fakes as triggers of a certain type of behavior made the traditional protest and absentee groups - groups that do not participate in elections - active voters. According to my calculations, of the total number of those who came to the elections in the first round of elections in September there were about 10% and about 30% in the second.
What for such a person to participate in the election? He got up from the couch, voted in protest and formed the installation - for whom to vote. But he does not have a culture of participation in elections and the practice of frustration. “I voted this way, it means that it should be so”, “I am for Ischenko, and you stole the victory from me,” they argue, and it’s useless for them to prove something. Sociologists have long known that the replacement of the installation takes six months. There was no such time between elections in Primorye, so in this case it was easier to convince such people not to go to elections.
It was necessary to keep supporters Kozhemyako. And how, if traditional media do not work, or work only in certain, as a rule, rural areas? Get into social media. But, nevertheless, people sometimes turn on the TV, but, as they do it rarely, and it’s necessary to act, it’s necessary that the candidate be there all the time. Those who are influenced by traditional media say: “Yes, as long as possible, there is one Kozhemyako on the screen.” But in reality, they are caught not by others, but by a mobile electorate. They are roughly 5-10 percent, but they can decide the outcome of the campaign.
- And what about the slogan "I think this is important," which itself became the basis for creating numerous fakes?
- I think this is a great find. You scold the slogan, and at the same time it breaks into the head.
Another thing is that I did not see a holistic campaign. My motivation was formed for other reasons: I am sure that Primorye needs a working governor, who has not been here for a long time. We need not a wizard, but a person who works. The disadvantage was the lack of a normal informational messenger. The first rule of the political technologist: an informational nail is driven into the voter's head with an event hammer. There must be an event - it needs to be made, and then on its basis form a certain message that will cling.
The basic need formed in the protest environment was the need for fair elections, and this could be used, but there was a risk of leaving the protest active. But since this request remained unsatisfied, the problem will exist for a long time. Oleg Nikolaevich is simply obliged to put an end to this question.
AND WILL BE ON ...
- What will happen to the Internet and fakes?
- The impact of the Internet will only increase. But in a year or two on social media there will be some fakes. In time, people will understand this and leave this area. We will either return to the traditional media, if they learn to speak the truth by this time, or get some new channels or more convergent media.
- What should be expected in the political sphere in the new 2019 year?
- Most likely, the system will develop inertia. No major changes or innovations should be expected. In Primorye, the governor will have to build a new system of government, so the staff rotations and new appointments will be the main events of 2019. For some serious changes in the quality of life in Primorye Kozhemyako will take at least a year.
In addition, there is a rather complicated appointment (or election) of the head of Vladivostok. I think this will happen no earlier than April.But the main result of the 2018 elections is, perhaps, that the myth that it is impossible for opposition candidates to come to power in the governor's elections has actually been dispelled. Gubernatorial elections have become highly competitive. This requires a serious approach to election campaigns. It is no longer enough to rely only on presidential support.