14 September 2021
by Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of voters’ rights movement Golos and laureate of a Moscow-Helsinki Group award
An analytical report on election campaigns and voters’ administrative mobilisation has already been published on Golos’ website.
It makes some rather unexpected conclusions, which I will write about in a separate piece.
Among other things, an entire section of the report has been dedicated to “smart voting”, which has been the talking point of these elections. The findings are very interesting.
Studies conducted by Russian political scientists show that the effect of smart voting in the 2020 regional elections amounted to 5% in regional capitals and 7-8% in Moscow and St Petersburg (although it was weaker in rural areas). Yet, mentions of “smart voting” on social media and internet searches during the same period was low (and of course it was hardly mentioned at all on mainstream media).
Now, mentions of smart voting are incomparably higher. If we compare how often the phrase smart voting is mentioned on social media with mentions of the political parties standing for election, we can see that it ranks 5th – that’s higher than one of the parliamentary parties, A Just Russia – For Truth.
The government’s fight against smart voting has so far had the opposite effect from what was expected. Visibility data from social media shows a significant rise in interest in smart voting over the last two weeks. In the twelfth week of the election, smart voting was mentioned almost as often as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF).
If smart voting were a political party, then it would rank third on social media and even vie with the Communist Party for second place in terms of engagement (i.e., the number of times users reacted to posts) (see fig. 1).
(Y axis: 1. United Russia; 2. Communist Party of the Russian Federation; 3. Smart Voting; 4. New People; 5. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia; 6. Yabloko; 7. A Just Russia; 8. Party of Growth; 9. Motherland; 10. Russian Party of Freedom and Justice; 11. Pensioners’ Party; 12. Green Alternative; 13. Communists of Russia; 14. Russian Ecological Party “The Greens”; 15. Civic Platform)
Over the last few days, its engagement rate has even surpassed that of United Russia by a huge margin – almost double (see fig. 2). This is in large part due to the authorities’ own rash actions…
You can find the report and further figures here: https://www.golosinfo.org/articles/145472
Translated by Judith Fagelson