About this blog
A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters
Saturday, September 26, 2009
German voters will elect a new parliament today, and German involvement in the war in Afghanistan is a key issue, along with the economy.
Germany, which has 4,200 troops in Afghanistan, recently bombed fuel tankers that had been stolen by the Taliban there, and civilians were killed in the attack. On Friday, an al-Qaida group, calling itself "The German," released a video with vague threats issued in retaliation for Germany's military presence in Afghanistan.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) has called for an exit strategy from the conflict. German involvement in Afghanistan has been a contentious issue for years now. In fact, in 2005, Rolf Schwanitz, an SPD minister, issued a controversial poster, titled "She [Merkel] Would Have Sent Soldiers" (shown on the right), which featured a row of flag-draped coffins of American war dead.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to remain in office, with her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) garnering the most votes. The CDU (with the Bavarian Christian Social Union) is supported by about 35% in the latest polls, with its coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrat Party (FDP), attracting 13% support. If these two parties fail to gain a majority of the votes, they will have to find a third partner or the CDU will try to continue the present coalition with the center-left SPD, which is polling around 25%. For pre-election poll results, click here. The rest of the vote will be divided mainly between the Green Party and socialistic Left Party (each with about 12%).
Posters for Merkel and her party are more sedate, showing her smiling along with her main slogan, "We have the strength." Perhaps the most controversial CDU poster, titled "We have more to offer," was issued by Vera Lengsfeld, with her own and Chancellor Merkel's cleavage prominent (also shown on the right). Several women's groups criticized the poster. However, the most important controversy—besides the war in Afghanistan—is whether or not to cut taxes and increase the budget deficits (favored by the CDU and FDP, and opposed by the SPD and others).
The Green Party also issued an attention-getting poster, titled “The only reason to vote black,” which showed a white woman's hands on a black woman's bottom. Some criticized this poster as racist, although the Greens stated that the color black was meant to symbolize the CDU and that the poster was intended to show support for same-sex partnerships.
To read about the the political history of Germany and its posters, including past provocative ones by the Green Party, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.
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