Yesterday I gave a passing mention to a poll-rigging faux pax by the ruling Slovene Democratic Party. To cut a long story short, the free daily Žurnal24 (lots of pictures and ads, limited or no useful content) ran a web-poll on 9 March asking people whom they support: PM Janez Janša or the once-almighty Andrijana Starina Kosem, who broke rank and blew the whistle on Janša’s meddling with the media and state-owned comapnies. Apparently the very next day the PM got as much as 115.000 votes, against some 6000+ for ASK. That’s 120.000 clicks in less than 24 hours just for this one poll. That’s 5.000 clicks per hour or 1,38 clicks per second.
Too much, actually. Web polls are a shit. Everybody knows that. You cannot control the sample which renders them unsuable beyond filling up some white space on your website. Also, they are hugely unpopular. Žurnal24 went on the record saying that usually they register only a couple of hundred votes on any given subject. OK, say you expected 1200 votes since the question was deliberatly controversial. But 120.000? A hundred times more? No go. It’s just not possible. So the IT people at Žurnal24 launched their own investigation and found out that a computer or a cluster of computers, residingin on an SDS-owned domain was rapid-firing clicks, voting in favour of the PM. When confronted with this, SDS spokesperson at first refused to comment, saying only that the system allowed for a multiple voting from a single IP, but later issued a statement denying any abuse and addind that they “only made use of the voting system at Žurnal24 website“. Blimey! The statemenent reveals something quite astonishing: that they were in on it. This was apparently an orchestrated attempt at manufacturing a favourable result. Even more, the statement shows that SDS finds this sort of behaviour entirely acceptable.
Every party is keen on fixing the polls. It makes them look good and there’s always a chance of jump-starting a positive trend. But to noone will admit it, of course. Except SDS, apparently. Time and again I am amazed and baffled by sheer arrogance this party is capable of. Every other political party knows this is wrong and at least has the decency to try to hide it and make the result believable. But not SDS. It mass-clicked a staggering 115.000 votes for its boss and then went: “What?”.
What amazes me most is their belief that they can actually get away with it. This is not the first time something like this has happened. Remeber Vroči stol, when Janša got 83% over Pahor? It looked really pathethic and one would think that SDS learned something from that sorry episode. Apparently not. I mean, who are they trying to fool? If you want the people to believe something, you have to make it believable. But apparently the belief that power is theirs to have – that they are somehow entitled to it by default – is so deeply rooted within the party faithful that they have no scruples left and are bent on creating a favourable reality than adapting to
it an existing one.
This is the party whose president decried the media criticism he was/is facing as opposition propaganda and now that same party would have us believe that 95 percent of the people support the prime minster. This is the party whose president regularely brushes aside far more competent polls as biased and unimportant and now that same party freely admits to abusing a loophole in a meagre and trully insignificant webpoll to create a favourable-if-unbelievable result. This is the party which – for better of for worse – thinks that if theory doesn’t fit the facts, well, so much worse for the facts. Because they know what the public opinion is. It’s just that everyone in this country is hell-bent on removing them from power and no real poll results are published. So they created some.
Sometimes I entertain by myself thinking that people who speed-click or phone-in in favour of the government are kept in large numbers in a dark basement, in a large steel-barred cage, their legs chained to the table, being fed raw meat and a Snickers bar twice a day. But in reality these people are almost like you and me. Its just that they know.