Election Detector. Everyone wants Klychko. The main trends in the information space during September 14-20, 2020

Українську версію читайте тут.

The mayor of Kyiv is haughtily trolling allies and competitors, the Opposition Platform for Life party is struggling with the redistribution of Kharkiv electoral districts and manipulating sociology, and the People’s Servant is in a defensive position. Election Detector 2.4.

Election Detector is a weekly analytical review which timely captures the main topics, trends, manipulations, and changes in the information space, related to the local election. Read more detailed analysis in our regular (television news, political talk shows, information channels, Russian propaganda etc.) monitoring studies. The ferst issue of Election Detectoris available here, the second here, the third here.

Main trends of the week

The People’s Servant party has to find excuses in several unfavorable stories that compromise it, and is under criticism attacks from virtually all other participants of the election process. The congress at the University of Kyiv, which was supposed to give the party a beautiful picture for the selection of candidates for the Kyiv City Council, also caused a scandal.

Mayor of Kyiv Vitaliy Klychko, who was supported by the European Solidarity party, is behaving as the winner of the election and is mocking competitors. Nation-wide media are not interested in the composition the UDAR party’s lists for elections in Kyiv, like in lists of most other parties.

The Opposition Platform – For Life party is using the usual topics – “the rights of Russian-speakers”, the elections in Donbas, etc. – and adding struggle against the changes in the electoral districts in Kharkiv to the list. However, for some reason, it decided not to report in detail about own candidates in Zaporizhzhia. Manipulative pseudo-sociology in favor of The Opposition Platform – For Life party was broadcast on Inter.

The Fatherland, the Voice and the Proposition parties are quite poorly represented in the nationwide media space, while Oleh Lyashko receives a disproportionate presence on Ukraine channel as for a candidate in a peripheral district. The For the Future party is promoting itself on Inter channel again in addition to 1+1 channel.

The European Solidarity party foretells the loss of the visa-free travel with Europe – against which Petro Poroshenko promises to protect Ukraine – and predicts revenge. At the same time they put ex-president’s wife Maryna Poroshenko, who promises to concentrate on peace issues, at the head of Kyiv’s list.

The particularity of the electoral system, the peculiarities of voting during the coronavirus epidemic, violations during elections are the topics that are sporadically covered by the central media.

The most important events related to the election, which were covered in the media in the period from September 14 to September 20, 2020

The stage of the election campaign on which the names of candidates alone – as well as their backgrounds, if they have not been known before –  create coverage opportunities and (sub)(ad)vertising messages for voters, is coming to an end. Some parties try to “sell” their names twice, officially nominating their candidates when their campaign is underway.

The notorious inspection in the Shumy area was canceled (formally postponed indefinitely), but its informational trace still harms the authorities and brings benefits for the opposition, mostly to the European Solidarity party – as it it could firmly established itself as the main prosecutor of the government in treason. In particular, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, the European Solidarity party’s member of parliament actually forced Deputy Prime Minister Oleksiy Reznikov to justify the actions and declarations of the “patriarchs” in the tripartite contact group – Leonid Kravchuk and Vitold Fokin – on ICTV channel’s Freedom of Speech. Reznikov promised that a spokesperson would be appointed to voice the TCG’s positions. But in a few days, Vitold Fokin added fuel to the controversy, repeating that the militants should be pardoned. Similarly, during the week, the People’s Servants had to extinguish the information fire after the news of the intention to change the Verkhovna Rada resolution on elections in the occupied territories – the politicians of the single-party parliamentary majority took turns to assure that this will not happen, facing criticism from the pro-Russian opposition. Medvedchuk received a manipulative reason to declare that Ukraine is not fulfilling the Minsk agreements in the news on Inter and his own TV channels.

Wagnergarte“, was also mentioned in the talk shows, for which head of the President’s Office Andriy Yermak had to find excuses again.  The defensive position becomes habitual for the government, but it is less and less advantageous, as almost all other participants in the election process start attacking the government.

The media are still reluctant to address the most difficult thing which is to explain how the new, extremely sophisticated electoral system works. For example, only three of the eight central TV channels monitored by Detector Media reported on that the Cabinet of Ministers approved regulations for the election process in the pandemic. Even reports on such important things as the voting procedure for coronavirus patients (and their number increases every week) are still occasional. The central TV channels did not pay much attention to the first violations in the election process, which were recorded by law enforcement agencies. This is something new for Ukraine, a month before the election, at least a few opposition parties made statements on the preparation of large-scale falsifications in order to later have arguments to explain their failures.

Manipulations of the results of the sociological surveys in the national media are still sporadic, although there are fictional or tailored “ratings” with the right people in the right places everywhere in the regional media and social networks. Only Channel 5, Inter and 1+1 among the central channels, were interested in the results of the Rating company which has a good reputation. On September 15, Channel 5 spoke about the Kyiv rating headed by Klychko, adding the following to the list of candidates: “The same number [at the level of 4% as Oleksandr Omelchenko] are ready to support Dmytro Hordon, who at the same time did not declare his desire to run.” The same results were reported in the news by Inter.

The next day, Channel 5 reported about a “drop in Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s rating to under 30 percent“: “If the presidential election took place in early September, 29 percent of those polled would vote for the incumbent head of the state. In second and third place is Yuriy Boyko from OPZZh and the leader of “European Solidarity” Petro Poroshenko. They have 15.5 and 14 percent, respectively. At the same time, Ukrainians are more dissatisfied with Zelenskyi’s work than they approve it. However, our compatriots have even more claims to the government and parliament.” 

But the “aggregate rating” of parties across Ukraine, “which is the sum of all results in the elections to the regional council of each region“, appeared in the news on 1+1 channel – here the list of parties was finished with the For the Future party with 5.8% support. However, it would not harm to explain this material – what is the rating, how it was calculated and how it should be interpreted.

Meanwhile, Inter has taken up the old habit  of publishing ratings from dubious sociological offices, which demonstrate no less dubious lead of the Opposition Platform – For Life party. “The Opposition Platform – For Life became the leader of electoral sympathies in the upcoming local elections in the Donetsk region. The majority of Donetsk region residents – more than 55% – are ready to vote for them. These are the results of a survey conducted by the Sociomodus analytical center,” the material said. The manipulative nature of this announcement is that there will be no elections in the Donetsk region, divided into occupied and free parts – elections are held only in certain communities, and the regional council will not be elected. Sociomodus is listed in the database of pseudo-sociologists, which was formed by Teksty.

The most interesting comes next: “Candidates from the Opposition Platform – For Life party also hold leadership positions in the elections of the heads of the largest united territorial communities in Donetsk region. For example, in Kostiantynivka, 47.5% of people are ready to vote for Oleh Azarov. His rival Oleksandr Kulyk is supported by only 9%. And in Mariupol, the incumbent mayor Vadym Boichenko who has almost 49% of support is followed closely by Volodymyr Klymenko, the candidate from the Opposition Platform – For Life party. 28% of voters are ready to vote for him.” Not only does the Opposition Platform – For Life party channel not name the parties from which the competitors of Opposition Platform – For Life party candidates’ are running; the ratio of the Mariupol candidates’ support speaks for itself, so the claim that the candidate from the Opposition Platform – For Life is “following closely” Akhmetov’s candidate Boichenko is a blatant manipulation.

Another reminder that an unbridled coronavirus disease epidemic can shuffle election cards was the illness of Kharkiv Mayor Hennadiy Kernes this week. The politician, who with his Successful Kharkiv bloc intends to continue to control the city with over a million population, went to the hospital. In mid-September, unconfirmed information spread in the media: Kernes is in a coma on artificial lung ventilation. References were made to Telegram channels, other media and “sources in the president’s office.” Associates of Kernes were bustling – on September 14, they denied the coronavirus diagnosis (the media talked about it as a “refutation”, although it was a denial) and called it “tactless move of opponents.” And the next day the city council officially confirmed that Kernes got down with COVID-19. But, they said, not in a coma and not on artificial ventilation. Central TV channels paid a lot of attention to the Kharkiv mayor’s illness, finding out whether the whole hospital department was really vacated for him (at a time when there are not enough places in hospitals for ordinary mortals with coronavirus, such a message is a blow to the rating) or whether he was assigned a VIP-ward (version by 1+1). The STB channel “hinted through objections” that Kernes, in principle, may not take part in the elections: “It is not mentioned that in the local elections in October, Successful Kharkiv Bloc of Kernes will be represented by a candidate other than the mayor himself.” Another unsuccessful step by the team of Kernes was to announce in the days when the media paid increased attention to the sick mayor that he was not going to be transported anywhere. So when Kernes was taken to Germany for treatment to a private clinic two days later, it made his team’s position even less coherent and consistent (and 1+1 channel reported without citing sources the amount of 20 thousand euros, which allegedly was spent on transportation). Opponents of Kernes, whose chances have so far been around zero, have a promising direction in the election campaign – to accuse the host of Kharkiv of fleeing abroad, rather than entrusting his life to the medics in Kharkiv.

Another candidate with strong media support – Andriy Palchevsky  – was hit hard last week by journalists out of his control: Denys Bihus’s team has published an investigation, which in a state governed by the rule of law should force the politician involved to go underground. Palchevsky is still concerned not so much with his security and freedom as with his ratings – recent polls give him only 4% of support in Kyiv, so he has to spend a lot of money on spreading manipulative pseudo-ratings, where he “catches up with Klychko.”

Election Detector analyzes primarily the nationwide information field, which does not include many interesting stories from the pre-election life of Ukrainian regions. But we compensate for this with materials about the situation in some regions: Kropyvnytskyi, Kryvyi Rih, Poltava, Mykolayiv, Zaporizhia and in the free part of the Luhansk region. To be continued.

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