Though they remain a solid majority, fewer and fewer Russians are getting their news from TV.
Where do you most often get your news about Russia and the world?
|Internet (journals, websites, etc)||9%||21%||37%|
This trend is accompanied by an even greater loss of trust in TV; while 79% cited it as one of their most trusted news sources in 2009, since 2013 that figure has hovered around 50%.
Meanwhile, both the popularity and trust towards Internet portals and social media has basically quadrupled.
This is strongly concordant with what my own personal observations. The TV continues to blast out noise and light amongst provincial boomers. But as you head into the bigger cities, including Moscow, and go down the generations to the yuppies, more and more people getting information from online websites, social media (in terms of audience sophistication, Facebook > VK > odnoklassniki), and YouTube personalities such as Yury Dud’.
This may well form part of the explanation behind the recent spate of United Russia losses in the September gubernatorial elections:
- UR candidate Andrey Tarasenko beat KPRF candidate Andrey Ishchenko, but only thanks to the last minute fraud that was so blatant that, in an unprecedented step, the results have since been annulled, and a new election scheduled for December.
- UR candidate Svetlana Orlova lost to LDPR candidate Vladimir Sipyagin 37% to 57% in Vladimir oblast.
- UR candidate Vyacheslav Shport lost to LDPR candidate Sergey Furgal 28% to 70% in Khabarovsk krai.
These are the sorts of people who may well be running Russia in another 10-15 years, as the trends that are getting established now set the stage for politics after Putin.
1. SWPL is winning out over sovok, and the idiot box is going out with them.
It is going to become progressively harder for the kremlins to push empty suits on the regions. They have (wisely) decided not to try to power through with massive fraud. So they are going to have to up their game instead and actually field competitive candidates. The kremlins would also do well to get a better grip on how those intertubes work; Putin’s low level of Internet literacy is a widespread rumor, and I can confirm with high confidence that it is correct.
Furthermore, we can be confident in expecting the Internet to make deep further inroads into TV, eventually displacing it as the premier information source.
2. Reanimation of opposition politics. It’s not really a secret that both the KPRF and the LDPR is “nominal” opposition, with elections constituting a sort of referendum on the regime as opposed to a genuine political competition. But as the boost from Crimea wears out, and Putin edges closer to retirement, we can expect this “systemic” opposition to become more serious. As the (liberal) journalist Leonid Ragozin recently noted: “It’s only a matter of time before it switches to real, or as the Kremlin likes to dub it – “non-systemic” opposition. It also emboldens the systemic opposition by reminding both the Communists and LDPR that they control powerful mobilization machines capable of operating independently from the Kremlin.”
3. The most competitive factions are Communists and nationalists. As opposed to the single digit percentage approval liberals that the Western media fawns attention over (which only enjoys considerable support in the yuppiest, SWPList quarters).
4. And of the two, I submit that the nationalists have the better prospects. Long-time readers will know that I have long been bearish on the KPRF’s long-term prospects due to demographics. Its current, somewhat Marxist, somewhat traditionalist base is dying out, and frankly I suspect its long term fate is to be commandeered by marginal SJWs, as has been the fate of most Western Communist parties. A sad but appropriate fate.
But we can add another reason to that: There is no real class struggle in modern Russia. The raising of the retirement age, which has temporarily decimated United Russia’s ratings, should have been a boon to the KPRF. Instead, it has passed without effect: The party’s electoral rating was 9% in August 2018, exactly the same as in December 2017 – and down two percentage points from 2016. In contrast, the LDPR has risen by a couple of percentage points since 2016. Even though Zhirinovsky unequivocally declared that he supports the pension reform, e.g. during the LDPR gathering that I recently attended in Moscow.