Election Detector. Another “dirtiest election”. The main trends in the information space during September 28 – October 4, 2020

Українську версію читайте тут.

Candidates are getting accustomed to campaigning with the coronavirus, “servants” are getting out of new scandals, and the opposition accuses the authorities of pressure and repressions. Election Detector 2.6

The main trends

The candidate registration period is over, and now all registered candidates can campaign, although most have been successfully doing so for several weeks or even months.

More and more candidates and political leaders are suffering from the coronavirus, and some of them do not even stop campaigning. In particular, Petro Poroshenko, the leader of the Voice party Kira Rudyk and the leader of the For the Future party Ihor Palytsia were diagnosed with coronavirus. As the epidemic intensifies, the media are also changing the tone of the materials about the coronavirus, presenting the disease as an urgent circumstance of life that will affect all or most Ukrainians.

This week, the People’s Servant party and Volodymyr Zelenskyi cleaned up a new portions of negativity caused by people’s deputies Dubinskyi, Halushka and Yurchenko, the statement of people’s deputy Marchenko about military aid to Azerbaijan, Vitold Fokin, etc. Meanwhile, the European Solidarity and the Opposition Platform – For Life parties accused the government of repression against opposition candidates in unison (and on Inter channel it was even within the same materials). The Opposition Platform – For Life party’s leader Yuriy Boyko has already declared the upcoming elections (as well as the previous ones) “the dirtiest in history.” Apart from the For the Future party and the Proposition party, other political forces, in particular the Voice party, are in a hurry to join the camp of the repressed oppositionists.

The Opposition Platform – For Life party’s media manipulated election ratings – with both dubious in principle (created by Serhiy Lyovochkin’s office) and with far-fetched ones. The European Solidarity party’s media also found favorable ratings – they were prepared by the Socis company which is close to the party’s campaigning team member Ihor Hryniv.

There were very few explanatory materials about the elections (including how to correctly interpret sociology before the local elections, as most of the published ratings are either not related to local elections or calculated according to experimental methodologies) on the TV channels analyzed by Detector Media; positive difference was made this week by STB and Suspilne channels.

The most important events related to the election, which were covered in the media in the period from September 28 to October 4, 2020

Formally, the most significant – though in fact completely unnoticed – date of this week was September 29: the day on which the territorial election commissions finished the registration of candidates. It is not just that no one else will be able to run anymore: by law, candidates have the right to campaign only from the day following the date of their registration. It is obvious (and Opora, in particular, spoke about this), that three weeks of legal campaigning is not enough, so the only thing left for candidates and parties with serious intentions is to break the law. In reality, the promotional campaign of key political forces has been going on since at least the beginning of the summer, and in the case of the Opposition Platform – For Life party, it has not stopped since last year’s parliamentary elections. Under such circumstances, law-abiding candidates and parties that sat quietly until registration had little chance of success alongside those that dominated or at least were visible in the informational space during the inter-election period.

There is no doubt that the coronavirus epidemic affects the course of the campaign and will affect the future outcome of the election. But how the illness of the candidate or party leader affects the commitment of voters is not yet fully understood. In recent weeks, there has been a noticeable change in the tone and content of materials on coronavirus topics in the information space. In the past, when thousands or tens of thousands were ill and hundreds of new patients were diagnosed every day, coronavirus disease was referred to as a serious but still speculative threat. In fact, the focus was not so much on the disease as on the political, social, economic and other consequences of the epidemic, on experiencing quarantine, on how adequately the health care system works and addresses epidemic challenges. Today, when the number of patients has increased substantially, and the daily figure has exceeded four thousand, coronavirus disease is beginning to be portrayed as a real life situation that can be faced and probably sooner or later everyone will face.

Political propaganda responds to this change. Politicians do not hide their coronavirus diagnoses. Yulia Tymoshenko talks about her experience in fighting coronavirus disease on TV. Petro Poroshenko, Ihor Palytsia, Nestor Shufrych, Zhan Beleniuk and the leader of the Voice party Kira Rudyk were diagnosed with it. An important topic for the media was the health of Hennadiy Kernes, who, according to his associates, began to recover this week. Of course, even in a mild form, the disease, which means at least two weeks of isolation, is detrimental to campaigns, as leaders cannot take part in agitation tours and rallies. In addition, the Verkhovna Rada has been suspended due to quarantine – there will be only one sitting before the election, which means that the political forces will not be able to use the parliamentary platform to campaign, as was usually done before the election. But if at the beginning of the quarantine, the coronavirus disease of politicians was perceived by the public as “aristocratic” and as something brought from overseas resorts, now it makes the people’s deputies equal with the people.

The Opposition Platform – For Life party continues to manipulate using the results of dubious opinion polls on its television channels. On September 28, Inter channel, reported on the leadership of the Opposition Platform – For Life party in the free territory of the Donetsk region quoting the Ukrainian Sociological Group: “According to the results of the poll, in the controlled part of the Donetsk region, the Opposition Platform – For Life party has the best chance to get into the local bodies of authority – the party has almost 58 and a half percent. The second best chances has Vadym Boychenko’s Bloc with  almost 11 percent.” The head of the Ukrainian Sociological Group is Oleksandr Levtsun, who also works at the Serhiy Lyovochkin’s Nova Ukraina Institute. The co-founders of the company are Sviatoslav Denysenko, Deputy Head of the Nova Ukraina Institute, and Yuriy Nadtoka, advisor to the Levochkin’s Institute. Thus, it can be stated that the Ukrainian Sociological Group is a smoke screen company used by staff member of the Institute of People’s Deputy Serhiy Lyovochkin’s from the Opposition Platform – For Life party. Even if it was a real study, its results raise big questions, because different political forces take part in elections to councils of different levels. The mentioned Vadym Boychenko’s Bloc is a purely Mariupol project, and it is pointless to spread its results to the whole region. We would like to remind that elections to the Donetsk regional council will not be held this year.

On the same day, Channel 112 published a nationwide “rating” according to which the “Opposition Platform – For Life party is catching up with the People’s Servant party. The survey was conducted by the Institute of Analysis and Forecasting […] The president’s political force would have 26 percent of the vote, the Opposition Platform – For Life party more than 22 percent, the European Solidarity party about 14 percent, Batkivshchyna almost 10 percent, and the rest would not pass the five percent threshold”. Data by the Institute of Analysis and Forecasting were used by the Opposition Platform – For Life party’s channels for manipulation even before last year’s elections, and the head of this public organization, Yuriy Lisnychyi, is a frequent guest on Medvedchuk’s channels. If you manage to get through to the “institute” website (your antivirus software may be against it), you will see the results of the mentioned poll – they are about the supposed results of hypothetical elections to the Verkhovna Rada, and not local elections (which Channel 112 did not emphasize). The same figures were provided in the Pulse talk show on Channel 112. It is obviously difficult to conduct an adequate survey for the local elections, but the Rating company, which offered to the residents of different regions a lists of political forces running in these regions showed other results.

On September 30, Inter showed another report referring to a “study” by the Ukrainian Sociological Group on ratings in the Kharkiv mayoral election. The leadership of Hennadiy Kernes is not questioned here, but it is claimed that the lead of the incumbent mayor over the Opposition Platform – For Life party’s candidate Oleksandr Feldman is about 15 percent. It is impossible to compare these figures with recent polls by reputable agencies, but in July, Kernes was more than twice ahead of Feldman in even questionable polls. They also list the parties that pass the threshold to the City Council – the Kernes Bloc, the Opposition Platform – For Life party, the People’s Servant, and the Svitlychna Bloc. Detector Media have already written about Yulia Svitlychna’s connections to the Opposition Platform – For Life party. This week, Inter strengthened her personal PR – apparently in support of the nominal bloc running in the elections in Kharkiv.

Channel 5 published the results of a poll conducted by Socis, a company linked to the European Solidarity political technologist Ihor Hryniv, with an emphasis on the fact that Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s presidential rating had dropped.

If you do not take into account the election PR, the election is relatively little talked about in the news. STB made an explanation material about the ballots and the specific voting procedure in the local elections. Channel 5 surveyed voter bribery without naming candidates. A review material about violations and specifics of elections was made also by UA: Pershyi.

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