Poor political technologies: Why do failing political strategists continue to work?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

In the last local elections in Ukraine, both entire parties and individual personalities lost. Will someone answer with their own reputation for wrong advice or a wrong strategy that was chosen thanks to the consultations of political strategists?
23:13, 3 November 2020

Open source

Profession - political consultant

Political strategists in Ukraine are not as public as political scientists. At least a certain part of them do not promote their occupation too much, do not go on air, do not give interviews. Often, the public learns about the work of a political strategist when he emerges in the party list in elections or in a public office. This is exactly how one of the career lifts in Ukraine works: yesterday's political strategist is now in MPs, officials or even in the presidential administration.

Sometimes political strategists are imported from abroad, which has recently become a popular trend. The most famous "migrant worker" in this pool is, of course, Paul Manafort. He is known to have consulted both Donald Trump and Viktor Yanukovych, which caused a scandal in America and ended up in prison for Manafort. After all, having visited Ukraine, the latter caught the "corruption virus" and decided that at home, you can just avoid to pay taxes on profits, as it is done in Ukraine.

Other well-known personalities were also noted for part-time work in Ukraine. For example, Russian Alexei Sitnikov. He worked with a whole cohort of politicians, among whom, according to legend, were Shevardnadze, Yeltsin, and Ksenia Sobchak. And among the domestic establishment - Yulia Timoshenko. It was Sitnikov who invented her legendary braid and the whole image that was attached to it.

However, we will leave aside foreign "guest performers". In the last local elections in Ukraine, both entire parties and individual personalities lost. The candidate for the mayor of the capital, Andriy Palchevsky, whose campaign was the most expensive, lost, and the Servant of the People party lost, having significantly decrease his rating on the way to power. Will someone answer with their own reputation for wrong advice or a wrong strategy that was chosen thanks to the consultations of political strategists?

Most likely no. And here are the reasons.

The strategy is not mine

“You know what they say: victory has many fathers, and defeat is always an orphan,” Bogdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, recalls a well-known saying. "In elections, one political strategist rarely works, as a rule, there are much more teams. And this gives reason to say that it was not me who was mistaken, but the other team was also mistaken," he adds.

Petrenko draws a good parallel between political strategists and politicians. "Do you know many cases when a politician - even the most, as they say now," greasy "- would sprinkle ashes on his head and slowly step aside, giving way to the rest?" - the expert asks a rhetorical question.

"Neither political strategists, nor politicians themselves leave the profession. Even those who have become odious or losers. It is necessary for a completely exceptional case to occur - as with Yanukovych, for example, - so that a person falls out of Ukrainian politics. Because no one retires. But no one wants to take responsibility on themselves, especially if there is someone to shift it to," Petrenko notes.

"Yes, and every political strategist knows how to better interpret his loss - what exactly can be attributed to objective circumstances that are difficult to overcome. They know perfectly well how to promote themselves and turn everything in their favor. None of the political strategists will ever say that yes, I made a mistake in this and that, there was no need to bribe voters, but here - to launch such and such a slogan or something like that. He will take note of this so as not to repeat the same mistakes, but, of course, will not leave the profession," expert says in conclusion.

A political strategist is not a magician

But political scientist Kyrylo Sazonov does not see a problem in the rotation of the same names and persons in the field of political consulting. "Demand gives rise to supply. If a person is in demand, he has a job. If not, then no. The market is free, and if the customer has agreed with the technologist, then what are the problems? And they even turn to the losers of the elections, because everything, in the end, is decided by the price", Sazonov is convinced.

Thus, "cheap" consultants have every chance of re-emerging in the market, even despite a poor background. In addition, there are two more points - the personality of the customer (or his political force) plus the layering of circumstances that make it impossible for a particular person to win.

Related: Medvedchuk on local elections vote count: Authorities indulge fraud, criminal acts

“A lost campaign does not necessarily indicate that a bad political strategist was hired,” notes Sazonov. “There are indeed a lot of objective factors. A political strategist is not a magician. And new elections mean new stories, new factors, new circumstances. Political strategists helped Poroshenko to win one round in 2014, and in 2019 he lost miserably to Zelensky. Political technologists are the same, but circumstances have already changed. "

"Political technologists do not paint their candidate on a blank sheet. They can shade some points, and make some more prominent, but in any case they work with ready-made material, because they have not a child, but a mature politician," Sazonov says.

A little hypnosis

Andriy Zolotarev, head of the Third Sector Center, also emphasizes this: “There are not so many specialists who can do at least something. But even professionals sometimes lose quite loudly, especially if the candidate is initially doomed or if his electoral niche is already occupied, then any political strategist will not correct this situation. But even despite the defeat, there are people who are always in demand. There is a buyer, and there is a seller. If they agree, then there will be cooperation."

In addition to the lack of professionals, Zolotarev points out one more thing. The popular thesis that a Ukrainian voter has the same memory as an aquarium fish. In fact, the politician has a short memory also. “For a while, customers tell each other about the loss of such and such a technologist, but then they successfully forget about it. And they hire him again. You look: five years have passed, and the person is back on horseback ... Usually, any losses are not reflected in the consulting market services ", states Zolotarev.

He recalls the US elections and says that at one time "Hillary Clinton had a fairly professional and powerful team - stronger than Trump's team led by Manafort." But the Democratic candidate lost the election in 2016. And although in America itself many assumptions were made about why this happened, Zolotarev believes that something else must be taken into account. Namely - a certain kind of hypnotic ability of a political strategist and his ability to influence his client and his behavior.

"The psychotherapeutic skills of a political strategist are also important. He can either intimidate a client, or tame him so that he has unlimited trust. And this becomes the main factor in the success of any political strategist - to find the key to the client's behavior.


But not political strategists alone ... Our sources inform that now a "debriefing" has been arranged in the "Servant of the People" and ... the coronavirus and a new electoral system have been appointed to the position of the two "main culprits". With the first, everything is clear: it obstructed meetings with voters and field work. Plus negatively affected the turnout. As for the electoral system, many of those citizens who, despite the epidemic, did come to the polling station, were unable to "vote correctly" because they got confused in the ballots and marks in them.

However, some are looking for the culprit not only among viruses, but also among people. "The publication of the election results should stimulate the president to make radical personnel changes ... Or we all need to slowly prepare to withdraw to previous positions, if they - positions - are prepared," Olexander Dubinsky, MP from the Servant of the People, wrote in his Telegram. Although it is interesting whether Dubinsky is ready to answer questions regarding the electoral process in the Kyiv region, for which he was responsible.

The same applies to Mykola Tyshchenko, who oversaw the elections in Kyiv and, in the opinion of the majority of "servants", deliberately failed them. Tishchenko himself does not comment on the situation: he is still being treated due to the coronavirus, which he met just in time, and focuses mainly on his state of health and on the "temperature" of 36.8%, which he has simultaneously with coronavirus disease.

But in general, the party chats are now fun - a casting for scapegoats has been announced. Although, regardless of whether they are found or not, the MPs who failed the campaign (if they really failed) have nothing to fear. Nobody will take away their mandate and punish them.

Related: Zelensky deserves "150 years in prison" for his words, - Constitutional Court judge

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