Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Be careful what you report

This example is from Russia, but the same warning would apply to NGO polling operations in China, Nigeria, and Iran. The danger is less for operations in Mexico and the UK. What explanations for the differences would you offer?

Russian Polling Center Is Declared a ‘Foreign Agent’ Before Elections
Russian officials declared the Levada Center, the country’s only major independent pollster, a “foreign agent” on Monday, two weeks before nationwide parliamentary elections and days after a poll showed sliding support for the governing party, United Russia.

The decision, announced by the Justice Ministry, means the Levada Center will probably shut down its polling operations, which it has been conducting since the late 1980s…

A law signed by President Vladimir V. Putin in 2012 requires all nonprofit organizations that receive foreign funding and are engaged in loosely defined political activity to register and declare themselves as foreign agents, a term widely associated with spying in Russia…

The Russian government has made an effort to portray the coming elections for the State Duma, scheduled for Sep. 18, as more transparent than those in 2011…

The decision to label the Levada Center a foreign agent was widely seen as a setback to the efforts to foster greater transparency…

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