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Posters and Election Propaganda

A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 4:40PM   |  Add a comment
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Elections for the lower house of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha, concluded on May 16.

The voters gave the ruling moderate-left Congress Party, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a great victory over the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress Party coalition won 262 seats in the 534-seat parliamentary body; the BJP-led coalition only won 157. (Click here for the results.)

According to Rama Lakshmi, writing in The Washington Post: "For the first time since 1996, India will have a coalition government that is not fragile and unwieldy and that has a relatively strong center. The outgoing coalition government...was sustained by a handful of communist parties that eventually withdrew support over a controversial civilian nuclear agreement concluded last year between India and the United States."

$3 billion was spent on the campaign—about $600 million more than was spent during last year's presidential campaign in the United States, reported The New York Times. Of course, much was expended on TV spots and newspaper ads, but text messages were also sent to many of the 400 million cell-phone users, and priests were even hired to perform rituals in support of candidates and parties. One medium that was used less than in the past was posters, since India's election commission issued a ban on their display in public, if permission has not been granted to put them up, according to The Times. Web sites were also evident—with the BJP emulating Barack Obama's online example.

Previously, posters were rated as the fifth most important medium in campaigns by Indian campaign managers, behind rallies and daily newspapers, public television, and radio, but ahead of private television, direct mail, and magazines. For more on Indian politics and posters, see a previous blog entry and the book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.


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