The presidential election is getting closer, and the intrigue less: the presidential candidates speak for themselves. However, in recent years with the world sociology there have been a number of epic failures. The most remarkable of them having failed predictions of the results of a referendum on Brexit and the last presidential election in the United States. Sit down in a puddle and Russian sociologists? Our questions are answered by the famous Russian researcher of public opinion, leading scientific worker of the Institute of sociology Leonti Byzov.
— Leontiy Georgievich, perhaps, our sociological service wrong, not expecting the forthcoming elections are no surprises?
And in America and in the UK the situation was very unstable. Society there is virtually split in half. The picture changed with kaleidoscopic speed, any fluctuations could radically change public opinion in favor of a particular decision or candidate. Which is what happened. Played a huge role in the case.
In the United States, perhaps towards the middle of the next day many of those who voted for trump, regretted it. If the elections were held a few days, with a probability of 95 to 100 they would win with Clinton. But that day the stars were not on her side. For a number of reasons, which we need to understand sociologists and psychologists, people have a desire to support trump.
Same with Brexit: the majority of the British disappointed in the results today, according to polls, would have voted differently.
Our situation is quite different — concrete-stable. There are no fluctuations — no wind or even a breeze. We do not see that some of the candidates are really serious challenge to Putin, and not just solves their particular local problems. Perhaps their particular local problems someone will solve. Here is your microstripe: who will be the second — Grudinin, or Zhirinovsky? But the outcome of the election is in no way affected.
— Well, in terms of turnout, there are risks for the government? You may recall that in the previous parliamentary election, according to official figures, was attended by 48 percent of voters, according to unofficial, according to some experts, less than forty. Thus then the boycott was spontaneous, and now he takes on a political dimension — one of the unregistered candidates proclaimed “protest voters”.
– In principle, surprises are possible here. Unfortunately, we social scientists are, frankly, not very good at predicting turnout. To the question “will you come to the polls?” people usually answer: “Yes, definitely”. But many of those who give this response, at the polling stations then did not appear.
You may recall the election of the mayor of Moscow in 2013, when Sobyanin had in the second round — summed up exactly the turnout was not just below expectations, and uneven below. Supporters of Navalny came almost everything, and of the supporters of Sobyanin — only a third.
However, with regard to the current election, I believe that the risks are minimal. In our political culture, the President is king, so the turnout for presidential elections is always much higher than the others. Navalny calls a statistically significant impact on turnout will not have.
First, his supporters make up a very small proportion of the population. Secondly, I think even they are not all ignore the election. There are other candidates the liberal direction — for example, Ksenia Sobchak or Grigory Yavlinsky, and they strongly disagree with the idea of a boycott. However, from the point of view of the post-election socio-political climate, the role of the boycott will be significant enough. Supporters of Navalny is young, energetic, ideologically motivated people who are very active in social networks. Their importance in society is much higher than those 1,5–2–3 percent who today can dial in the election of their candidate.
— Another question, how reliable will the final figures. On this account (at least in regard to appearance) there are some doubts. After all, as comrade Stalin, the main thing — not who and how to vote, and who and how counts the votes, and the reputation of our counters leaves, alas, much to be desired.
— Rigging we are always present, can not do without them, unfortunately, none of the choices. But even in December 2011, when it led to mass protests, fraud was still not so large as to seriously affect the results. Their contribution amounted to a maximum of 4-5 percent. And I think that the government having learned this bitter experience. The main task for today — to prevent the delegitimization of the elections. That being said, the mosquito nose are not undermined, that there are no serious complaints, no serious complaints on that score. Therefore, at least in large cities, the factor of fraud is, I think, is minimized.
The sociology, by the way, today is also experiencing a serious crisis of confidence. Especially after the process of monitoring the election mood was off, “Levada-Center”, our last major independent sociological service. Getting the status of inherent, leadouts can’t publish the ratings during the election campaign. The space for manipulation expanded?
– Narrowed, I would say, the space of public trust. For sociologists, it is very important that this market was affected by at least three, better yet four or five major services of studying of public opinion. As in all leading countries of the West.
We have, in fact, two — VTSIOM and FOM. Giving the “Levada-Centre” a status of a foreign agent, the government acted extremely stupid. It undermined confidence in the very structures, which prefers to rely. Not to mention the fact that to put sociological centers in the guilt of international cooperation is absurd. In my opinion, such cooperation should, on the contrary, be encouraged.
I worked for many years in the polls, know the team of Valery Fedorova and do not share the view of many that they do some manipulations. We can discuss interpretation of data, formulation of questions, but no fraud, I am sure, the speech was not. However, the public will not trust them. Otherwise it will be very difficult.
In addition, this opens the way to charlatans: the vacuum will be filled with a different kind of partisan homegrown sociological services, which will begin to give some sensation. Specialists, of course, will not take them seriously, but a gullible public might fall for.
— The conviction of a number of political scientists and your colleagues — sociologists to the polls today in any case can not be treated with full confidence, since a significant and increasing number of people are afraid to say what she was really thinking. Do you agree with this statement?
– My position is more complex. Such a category as people are driven by fear, when people, relatively speaking, wants to vote for the opposition replied that to vote for the candidate from the authorities, fearing for themselves some of the consequences — among the respondents, of course, exist. But a contingent of the minor and the weather in General the rankings do not. I think it is possible to estimate 1.5–2.5 percent.
More often we encounter those who, figuratively speaking, I am glad to be deceived: the man draws some idealized way as he would have to do if I was a good, proper citizen. But then do the opposite. This often caught the supporters of Zhirinovsky.
There were times when it was considered indecent to support it, so the polls he received less than the election. The same think happened with trump: many people didn’t admit that I want to vote for him. Regarding the appearance it is also commonly observed. The man says he will go to the polls, although really not going to do that.
— Can’t help but notice that the impact of the fear factor is dependent on the region. And somewhere clearly exceed 1.5–2.5 percent. Imagine how the poll on “do you Trust the President?”, for example, in Chechnya… And in fact, these surveys certainly are, and someone is certainly proud of the results.
– Yes, those who are there will respond “correctly” to this question, of course, is not to be envied. But I must say that in regions such as Chechnya, people in General rarely Express their own opinion. This is a traditional society where there is some General setting, how to “correctly” answer those or other questions.
It is not confined to a specific region: if we conduct a survey in Moscow among members of a North Caucasian Diaspora, we get approximately the same picture. People will Express a General consensus, not what you think really. This is a very serious problem which sociology is currently incapable. Except that the built-in method of observation. A survey in traditional and post-traditional societies is extremely rarely successful.
— Probably, it is possible to identify some more General relationship: the less politically free, the less objective opinion polls.
— Yes, but freedom, I repeat, can limit not only dictators, despots, whom everyone is afraid, but horizontal structure. It is more complicated than simple coercion.
— One does not exclude the other. In some of our regions are manifested, perhaps, both.
You’re right, often work both.
— According to a recent assessment of the head of VTSIOM Valery Fyodorov, two thirds of Russians now the priority is stability and only one quarter requires change, but not in a liberal direction: more government in the economy, less capitalism, less of rapprochement with the West. That is, the return to the Soviet model. How accurate, in your opinion, this portrait of the era?
We, Institute of sociology, of course, not polls and conduct surveys on a weekly basis, but about twice a year. But with a very large sample — 5-6 thousand people. Try to trace the main General trends. The last such survey was conducted by us in November of last year, before that — in April. And, according to our data, the proportion of those who the question of “stability or change”, chooses change, has grown in the last six months from 41 percent to 51 percent. 10 points. This is a huge figure for sociological research, generally very inert. How to explain such growth, we do not know. But fixed it all, including polls, although they have slightly different figures.
And despite that, you’re talking about “concrete-stable” pre-election situation. There is a contradiction here?
– There is no contradiction, because the request for a political change to a more free, competitive political system remains very small — at the level of 10-12 percent. I agree with Fedorov. Others who want change believe that changes can be achieved within the current political system. Something to tweak, screw up, someone to put, someone to scare and everything will go like clockwork.
These sentiments, and I also agree with the head of VTSIOM, are mostly lesohozyaystvennih character. Such a request can not be called just left, because this concept assumes a certain civic activity — the creation of the Union, to fight for their rights, and so on. Here, no such desires can not be traced. People are not willing to do anything themselves, they just appeal to power.
This is a request for a paternalistic state, a state which would take care of everyone. However, the power to please him not. The dynamics is obvious: lesohozyaystvennih component of Putin’s most actively displaces the right associated with national identity, “Russian spring”, and other such things. In the first place is against the extreme social injustice. But is that the request was politically not pronounced. Convincing left-wing politicians, who could ride this wave on the horizon is not visible.
— But it is quite harmless for the government, this request is probably still impossible to call.
— Yes, the government certainly can’t be happy with it. A direct threat is not for her, but it is clear that sooner or later the political niche will be filled. In fact, the relative success of the Bulk, relying on the anti-corruption slogans, in some extent connected with this request. The most important thing — removed the taboo on the word “change.” For a generation it was associated with the feeling of fear. In the same way as the word “democracy”. But this fear goes away.
— At the time, in early 2011, the Center for strategic research, headed by then Mikhail Dmitriev, using the method of focus groups, revealed “fermentation of minds” remaining unnoticed “traditional” sociology. Based on these data, Dmitriev and Sergei Belanovsky, who was then the Director of research center for strategic research, predicted the imminent appearance in Russia of a mass protest movement. And the forecast was completely confirmed. Does someone today this study?
– We are preparing to conduct a series of focus groups on the subject of the request for change. Now just trying to make the appropriate grant. But the project will likely be held after the election.
It is important to understand that the catalyst for change are often very small groups, which in General surveys, with representative samples just drown in the mass. In real life, they play a much larger role, as they are sort of trendsetters in their opinion, their behavior is guided by many. We call them the faster groups.
So, our task is to “catch” these leading groups, specifically to study them and to use them to try to predict how the events will develop in the future. In short, to do just what he did in 2011, the Center for strategic research.
— How likely is that now in society is implicitly invisible to the naked eye fermentation process?
— Fermentation is under way, but its phase is very low. People experiencing the need for political change, poor understanding of what they can be. Therefore, any shares that are comparable in scale to those that was in late 2011 — early 2012 in the near future, it is difficult to wait. Protests objectively weak. However, the system of government has been seriously weakened.
— Really? More common view is that, according to which system since, on the contrary, greatly strengthened, became more rigid.
– She has indeed become more rigid. But the rigidity doesn’t mean strength. In my opinion, it is rather a sign of weakness. Increasingly demonstrates the power of strength, but strength resorted to only in the case where could not find other arguments. These and other arguments obviously becomes smaller.
The system ceases to be effective, and the people of this inefficiency and the instability of feel. See that system operates, that is, from last forces.
On the other hand, in contrast to 2011, a process that began in society, albeit more subtle, are irreversible. Request changes will only expand, it will be connected and already connected a new generation of Russians. In fact, the whole history of Russia is the history of pendulum motion. First, the pendulum going one direction, then in another. And, it seems, we are approaching the point where public sentiment will reverse.
— Nevertheless, the principal threat to the government you call it is not the growth of popular discontent, and the growing luxury of contradictions: she can be destroyed only itself, not the bottom.
“Now the function of maintaining balance between different elite groups is performed with more difficulty”, you said in an interview three years ago. In what condition is your estimate, this balance today?
– I am not a specialist on elites, this is a separate field of sociology. Therefore, to judge this more as an interested observer than as a professional sociologist. But, judging by what I see and know, to support inter-elite balance really is becoming increasingly difficult.
If before 2012, the political system was more or less balanced radicals was then pushed to the periphery and in the center were moderate politicians, that today we are witnessing the rampant extremes, which are imposing their point of view, decision makers, and literally tear our political system. That’s why we in recent years, so shaking on turns. Decisions are made quickly, are accepted almost without any discussion, and implications are not always calculated. We crawl into a certain voluntarism.
— The diagnosis of sociologist and philosopher Alexander Filippov largely similar to yours: problem in power will not because of the activities of opposition politicians, but because of internal contradictions. Recently, he made the following prediction: “In the air literally worn the feeling that if we remained in reserve a few quiet years, their number not very great.” What are your feelings?
— My feelings even more grim than that of Filippov. The country makes a very steep dive, and landing will be very hard. The people still do not understand the seriousness of the moment. They think that all will be restored: even today, something not finishing, somewhere, take a trip, tomorrow everything will be back to normal. They are not ready to change their lives. But the greater will be their disappointment. Of course, Putin re-elected, his new term will be very difficult for him and for the country. Perhaps the most serious challenge in his life.
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