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Sep 1, 2021
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Russians are not interested in pre-election debates of candidates

Russians are not interested in pre-election debates of candidates

Photo: Artem Geodakyan / TASS

Most Russians believe that the pre-election debate is a political show, and not a tool for informing voters about parties, candidates and their programs. These are the findings of a study conducted by VTsIOM.

According to the head of the political analysis practice of the center Mikhail Mamonov, only a third of Russians consider the debate an important stage in the preparation for the elections.

“The dominant opinion was, it was shared by 58% of the survey participants, that this is a show that does not perform its functions sufficiently in terms of informing about candidates and programs”– he said during an online roundtable on the topic “Debate 2021: the apotheosis of the election campaign.”

At the same time, it turned out that Russians cannot always distinguish between debates and television shows, because representatives of parties participate in both formats.

“Often the line of speakers is close or even identical, therefore, as a rule, we record the fact of mixing different formats”– explained Mikhail Mamonov.

He also added that the current resonance of the debates is low, interest in them is low and their negative assessment prevails.

Elections to the State Duma will be held this year from 17 to 19 September. The voters will have to decide on who will represent their interests in the next 5 years. Candidates of 14 parties are registered in the federal lists, which will be listed in the following order on the ballot: the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, The Greens, the Liberal Democratic Party, New People, United Russia, A Just Russia – For Pravda, Yabloko, Party of Growth ”, Russian Party of Freedom and Justice,“ Communists of Russia ”,“ Civil Platform ”,“ Green Alternative ”,“ Motherland ”and“ Party of Pensioners ”.

As noted Director of the Institute of Contemporary State Development Dmitry Solonnikov, Russians show no interest in elections at all:

– Less than 50% are going to vote. If people are not interested in elections as such, then they are not interested in debates either.

Or, as we are talking about, the debate is like a show. I would combine this with the polls, which were a couple of months ago, that people’s interest in political life has increased compared to 2016, while political activity has decreased and there are fewer people willing to take part in the elections. The fact that the activity has increased is precisely the interest in news stories – to watch Telegram channels, news, etc., but not to vote.

If so, then debate is not about preparing to make an informed choice, but about satisfying your interests such as stand-up shows or other events. Hence the assessment of the quality of the debates, their content and usefulness.

Another interesting point that is often discussed and which does not leave our reality is that the citizens of our country are less and less responsible for the election of power. Citizens practically do not vote in municipal elections, unless they are combined with elections of a higher level. Citizens try to turn to the president for any reason – a broken light bulb in the stairwell, uncleaned porches, etc., although citizens themselves must be responsible for this through participation in election campaigns of municipal deputies, legislative assemblies of all levels.

There is no habit of being responsible for one’s choice, the habit of really participating in this choice, leaving everything at the mercy of the central government and the country’s top leadership. Hence the lack of interest in the real state of the elections, candidates, parties, their programs, opportunities. Debate from this part.

As soon as the population begins to responsibly, primarily for themselves, refers to the election of the heads of legislative bodies, who are trusted to adopt the budget, determine taxes, and therefore are not interested in how these taxes are distributed, then interesting debates, candidates and parties that are interesting for their texture will be important.

“SP”: – But maybe this low interest is due to the fact that citizens do not believe in the results, they think that they will still “count it right”? Maybe the authorities are responsible for the fact that citizens have lost faith in fair elections?

– Where does the government come from? Did the Martians let us down? Did the Washington Regional Committee set it up? We live in an occupied country and nothing depends on us?

This is not true. All participants in the political process know that they can replace something a little, not counting 3-5%. With 90% and even 60% of the participants in the electoral process, it is practically impossible to change the results. This is said by both sociologists and participants. The fewer people come, the more opportunities to manipulate. The more – the more objective the result.

If the opposition is winning somewhere, it means that they could not totally falsify. If you have been able to achieve this somewhere, then you can achieve it everywhere. You just have to try, and sitting at home, doing nothing and saying that “everything was decided for us” is the easiest way. Our population has no responsibility either for taxes, or for the distribution of budgets, or for the deputies they elect.

Expert of the PRISP Center, Ph.D. Nikolay Ponomarev not surprised by the lack of interest among Russians in debates:

– Pre-election debates make sense only in one case – when their participants have a comparatively equal chance of being elected. In this case, we are talking about the performance before the public at once of several potential holders of the status of a deputy, mayor, governor or president. When the winner is known in advance, the debate turns into a presentation by the technical candidates of their wishes in the key “if I were a sultan …”.

Currently, the overwhelming majority of election campaigns end with a victory for United Russia. In the 2018 presidential elections, there was only one question: with what result will the Vladimir Putin? What is the point of discussing the future game if the score on the scoreboard is known in advance.

“SP”: – Is it possible to do something to change the situation?

– For this, at least a “second ruling party” should appear. Although under the conditions of a super-presidential republic, de facto organized on a unitary basis, this is hardly possible. It is highly unlikely that the Kremlin will agree to loosen control over the political process. And without fulfilling this condition, the emergence of a second center of power in the party field is impossible.

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