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Pre-election race with and without the rules2012-02-10 19:21
GTimes is watching the political life of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On March 25, the Ossetians will re-elect a president, and in Abkhazia, they will elect the parliament in early April. Pre-election campaign is the time of harvest for the spin doctors. But in these Caucasian republics their work happens to be extremely ineffective. We've enlisted the help of experts to understand why this is so.
Bright flags, effective slogans, youth in the cold - all of this are always accompanying election campaigns in the Russian regions. Also the elections are accompanied by compromising evidences leak, sponsored surveys and sometimes burning the effigy of the opponent. This entire are methods are widely accepted in Russia, and not just in it. When the elections of Abkhazia and South Ossetia started to be held on a competitive basis, a long time familiar and clear techniques were imported here. But they appeared meaningless here. GTimes talked to the experts, acquainted with Abkhaz realities. They tried to answer the question why the well-tested political methods are ineffective not only in Abkhazia, but as the most recent presidential campaign showed off, in
South Ossetia too. Andrei Gavrilov is sociologist, well-known in Moscow among political consultants. He worked in the staff of one of the candidates in the elections of Abkhazia in 2009. There he had faced with a completely unexpected reality.
"The elections in Abkhazia and, in principle, in South Ossetia, are different from the elections in Russia. If in Russia, the media determines public opinion, there the media determines nothing. Interpersonal relations and direct personal contacts are playing main role there", Gavrilov said.
This is the main conclusion of Russian spin doctors. Abkhazia and South Ossetia even more, are the countries where there is no mass society for the simple reason - too few people. And the level of interpersonal relationships determines everything. Accordingly, the media does not play the role of mediator between politicians and ordinary people. Simply put, any farmer can go to the presidential candidate and to ask him a question.
"Visiting spin doctors can control the media or determine the nature of campaign materials, but they can't engage the politics of clan relationships. That's why the elections in Abkhazia are held just like in a small Russian town (not even a region). The first task for the Russian imagemaker is to raise the fame. In Caucasian republics, this issue does not determine the outcome of the campaign", Andrei Gavrilov keeps on telling us.
In Abkhazia, Gavrilov conducted field research, trying to form a team capable of conducting public opinion polls. To his credit I must say that he managed to reach even remote villages, where several hundred people were living. But he has learned Abkhaz realities by his own mistakes. Prior to him no one had engaged such work, there was no experience to borrow. For example, in accordance with the rules of the poll, after the respondent has answered all the questions, the time he had spent was paid. Citizens of Abkhazia were paid 500 rubles. And since everyone knew who of the candidates has brought the Russian experts, these payments were perceived as bribery of voters. An attempt to conduct a survey ended in a police department in one of the regions of the country.