Cheap politicking

Even though the assessment of citizens’ voting intentions is hardly a new pastime in our country, our politicians – especially those who insist on indulging in cheap politicking – appear incapable of making constructive use of it. In fact, they appear to prefer to use it for unethical ends. How else can we explain the fact that opinion polls publish the same data released by the executive committees of political parties a few days earlier? Research thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, democracy suffers and the credibility of a specific sector of professionals is compromised. It’s worth remembering that the job of researchers is not to win the bet. Obviously, like every professional, they want to see their figures proved correct. But of more importance is the fact that they track trends in public opinion and voting intentions. One of the biggest problems riddling political and social research firms is linked to the contradictory interests they serve. Indeed, most firms belong to – or are closely associated with – advertising companies. The turnover yielded by opinion polls may be significantly smaller than that generated by advertising. But both of these activities, if they are to acquire greater commercial value, need to pass through the mass media. And it is this which creates the prerequisites for corruption. Researchers, advertisers and the media belong to the same world of big money. Add to that the inclination to back «our lot,» and it is clear that opinion polls are not to be trusted.