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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 5:41PM   |  Add a comment
Bachelet and her supporters (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)

Chile's presidential election takes place in about three weeks; U.S. voters go to the polls in about three years. One thing both countries have in common is that two women—both known by their first names (seen on their posters) are favored to become president, at present.

Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet ("Michelle" on some posters) is a Socialist, who heads a seven-party coalition called "New Majority."  She is the daughter of a general tortured and killed by the Pinochet dictatorship. Bachelet was the first woman to hold the office of president in Chile, when she won a runoff election in 2005. She could not run for reelection, since presidents cannot hold office for consecutive terms.

According to Joshua Tucker, writing in The Washington Post, "pre-election polls makes it reasonable to assume that if she does not win in the first round (in which an absolute majority of the vote is required), she will win in the runoff" this time around. In the United States, a recent poll had Hillary Clinton ("Hillary" on most of her posters) as the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2016 and to beat any Republican challenger.

To read about Chile's last presidential election, which resulted in the election of Sebastián Piñera, a conservative billionaire, in 2010, click here. For more on Chile's past election campaigns, click here. To learn more about election campaigns and poster propaganda in Chile and other countries in Latin America, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 8:18PM   |  Add a comment
Billboard for "The Iron Lady" (MailOnline, 2012)

Margaret Thatcher—whose Conservative Party won elections three times between 1979 and 1987 when she led it—is the subject of a new movie, “The Iron Lady,” starring Meryl Streep. But the tough, imaginative campaigns that brought Thatcher to power were orchestrated by the advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi and emphasized emotions and issues and did not focus much on Thatcher herself.

In 1979, high unemployment and inflation hurt the ruling Labour government. The billboards and posters, titled “Labour Isn’t Working,” created by the advertising firm illustrated the joblessness (see my past blog post). They featured a long, snakelike line of people at the unemployment office, and the caption “Britain’s Better Off With The Conservatives.” TV spots also did not mention Thatcher; rather they showed people trying to cope with high prices, unemployment, and taxes, and speaking positively about Conservative economic policies.

Thatcher and her party won again in 1983 and 1987. After the British victory over Argentina in the Falklands War, and with improved economic conditions, the Conservatives won decisively over Labour (as shown in the film). Saatchi & Saatchi’s campaign for the Conservatives, in 1983, featured a poster that compared the Labour Party’s policies to those expressed in the Communist Manifesto. The poster’s headline read “Like Your Manifesto, Comrade.”

In contrast to U.S. elections, it was clear that British voters put less emphasis on the leader of the party. In a 1987 exit poll, voters were asked to indicate “the most important reason which decided their vote,” and only 6 percent replied that it was the party’s leader. It is not surprising, therefore, that British posters in the 1980s often excluded Thatcher and the opposing leaders (while U.S. posters showed Reagan, Bush, Carter, and Mondale).

More often than not, British election propaganda campaigns have emphasized issues more than the leaders, even popular ones. Party leaders, however, have appeared on posters more frequently in the past two decades. And, ironically, Thatcher has appeared a number of times on opposition posters and billboards—sometimes with only her hairdo on a Conservative Party leader (see an example above).

For more on election posters in British campaigns, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 7:30PM   |  Add a comment
Tsai Facebook Page Photograph


Piggy banks, posters, billboards, videos, and Facebook groups are all propaganda vehicles in Taiwan, which will hold its presidential and legislative elections on January 14, 2012. 

This week, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen decried her party's lack of funds, comparing its plight in the campaign to "a piglet fighting against a huge monster." That "monster" is the ruling Kuomintang Party (KMT), which toppled the DDP from power in the 2008 elections. Next to Tsai, while she spoke, was a giant piggy bank, and supporters threw money on the stage on which she was giving her speech.  

The DPP is selling plastic piggy banks to raise funds, and purchasers stuff money into them and send them back to party headquarters. In addition, a "piggy assembly" is scheduled to be held in December, at which more "stuffed piggies" will be returned. The goal is to sell and collect at least 10,000 piggy banks, according to an article posted on the Asia One News Web site. Another article—in the Taipei Times—stated that the party wanted to distribute 100,000!

President Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT is running for re-election. Also in the race is James Soong of the People First Party (PFP), who may draw votes away from the KMT candidate, giving the presidency to the DPP. A recent poll indicated that the race would be close, with Ma holding a 3.7-point lead over Tsai.

The posters and billboards for these candidates—and those running for seats in the legislature—are sometimes big and brash, using some interesting visual- and verbal-exaggeration techniques. These include puns, loud color, startling facial expressions, and unusual props and poses—such as a stethoscope, a bicycle, and a ping pong paddle, as well as a runner about to begin his race. But a 3 minute and 20 second video-ad for Tsai has gentle music and shows her happily riding a bicycle. For a good selection of posters and billboards already up in this year's campaign, see Michael Turton's blog, The View from Taiwan.

For more on the history of election campaigns in Taiwan and the posters, billboards, and other media used, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History

 

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 3:07PM   |  2 comments
Alliance for Future Colors on Statue (2010)

Mauritius—a volcanic island republic located off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean—is ranked as the most democratic country in Africa by World Audit, based on the criteria of political rights, freedom of the press, corruption, and civil liberties. Candidates are required, however, to state their ethnicity, or they are not listed on the ballot. In 2010, over 100 candidates were rejected for that reason, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Mauritius has a fairly good economy, and invests more in India's economy than any other country, according to Pranay Gupte, writing in The Hindu. However, unemployment is presently almost eight percent. Mauritius has a melting-pot population of one and one-quarter million people of African, South Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and French origin. English is the semi-official language, but Creole, French, and several other languages are evident. 

In May of last year, Mauritius held parliamentary elections, and 78% of eligible voters turned out. The National Assembly elects the president and vice-president. 

The Mauritius Labour Party (MLP) dominated the elections in the years before and after independence in 1968, but in 1982, the Mauritius Militant Movement (MMM) rose to power, in an alliance with the Mauritian Socialist Party (PSM). Since then, defections from parties, realignments, and shifting coalitions have occurred. An MLP-coalition, the Alliance Sociale, won the 2005 elections. In the election last year, the MLP joined with the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), the Greens, and two other parties to form the Alliance for the Future, and emerged victorious over an MMM-led alliance, winning by a six percentage-point margin.

Most of the political parties have Web sites and some even have Facebook groups, including the MLP. Campaigns are pretty tame in Mauritius, with lots of banners and flags waved, but in 2010, for the first time, the Ministry of Tourism outlawed the display of posters in order to "protect the environment," according to Touria Prayag, writing on the allAfrica.com Web site. Lots of food and beverages are dispensed though, with charges that votes are being bought with them.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 1:15PM   |  Add a comment
Woman walks past election campaign posters of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (BBC Photo; 2004)

Hafiz Noor Shams in a blog post in The Malaysian Insider compares the use of posters during election-campaign periods in Malaysia to their use in the United States and Australia (the latter of which voted on Saturday).

Shams wonders why there are so few posters in Australia, while "election time is always carnival-like in Malaysia. It is noisy and it is colourful. Loud speeches will blare into the night. More strikingly is the poster war. Colours representing major political parties will decorate the streets."

Why are the streets in Australia, the United States, and many other countries comparatively dull during their election periods? The mass media are more significant communication vehicles in these countries, and posters are used less—although they are now displayed on Internet sites (and downloaded) more frequently. In addition, there are no huge roadblocks to minor parties' advertising in the mass media, although they can be limited by a lack of funds.

But the main reason is legal restrictions imposed by the Malaysian government. The ruling coalition has over 90 percent of the seats in Parliament, and controls the mass media. In Malaysia, there are more political parties, and many of them do not have access to the mainstream media, making posters and the Internet more important vehicles to communicate to voters. Just to give you an idea of the number of political parties in Malaysia, eight new parties submitted registration applications in the first five months of this year alone! And opposition parties are not allowed to air their viewpoints on TV and radio, as well as in most newspapers.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 5:00PM   |  Add a comment
Your Party Logo

The Japanese now has a movement similar to the U.S. tea-party movement, but in their country, there is a real political party to vote for.

The party is called "Minna no Tō," which means "Everyone's Party" in English, although I have usually seen it referred to as "Your Party." The party is a new one—founded less than a year ago by politicians who left the Liberal Democratic Party.

The party stands for lower taxes, less regulation, aid to small businesses, and less government intervention.

In the election held this past Sunday, Your Party garnered ten seats in the upper house in parliament (still well below the main parties' numbers).

Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe stated after the vote that his group would not join the ruling coalition: "I think the prime minister should gracefully step down—a political gesture that would be in line with the results of the election."

"Forming a coalition is out of the question," Watanabe said. "Your Party is all about agenda, and we can't cooperate with a party with a different agenda. But we can coordinate in areas where our agendas are consistent."

 

Source: The Japan Timeshttp://search.japantimes.co.jp/rss/nn20100713a2.html
 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 12:11PM   |  Add a comment
Logo, Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV), The Netherlands (http://www.pvv.nl)

There are anti-immigrant parties in many European countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, and Switzerland (see previous blog entries from March 7, 2009 and December 14, 2008).

The elections to determine members of the European Union (EU) Parliament were just held in 27 nations, with the center-right European People's Party coalition emerging with the most seats.

One party that did particularly well was the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV). The PVV's platform calls for an end to immigration from non-European countries and opposes the admission of Turkey to the EU. In the 2006 elections for the Dutch House of Representatives, the PVV garnered only about 6% of the vote, but in this year's EU elections, it gained 17% (second only to the ruling Christian Democratic Alliance), giving the party its first four seats. In his "victory" speech, PVV leader, Geert Wilders stated: "The Netherlands is waking up from a long leftist nightmare. A nightmare of crazy high taxes, crime, lousy care, headscarves and burkas, of pauperizing, of mass immigration and Islamization...."

Other anti-immigrant parties also did well: the Italian Northern League won 10% of the vote (an increase from it's 8% in the 2008 general elections); the British National Party won its first two seats, with about 8% of the vote; Austria's Freedom Party won 13% of the vote (more than doubling its share); Hungary's Jobbik (For a Better Hungary) Party won 3 of 22 seats, with 15%—doing better than the Socialists; the Danish People's Party also won about 15%. British National Party Chairman Nick Griffin (who was elected to the EU Parliament over a Labourite) said: "We do say this country is full up. The key thing is to shut the door."

The biggest winners, according to the Financial Times of London, were the center-right parties, led by Angela Merkel of Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Donald Tusk of Poland, and Viktor Orban of Hungary, all of whose forces did much better than their Socialist (and other) opponents at the polls.

The EU Parliament is elected every five years. The body has power of legislation that affects environmental, consumer, and transportation matters, as well as joint control (with the countries' legislatures) over the $182 billion EU budget. The turnout in the elections, however, has also been going down, from a high of 62% in 1979 to 43% in this year's elections.

Other sources: Coming Vote on Assembly Elicits Shrugs in Europe/NY Times; Dutch Anti-Immigrant Party Emerges as Big Winner in EU Elections/TimesOnLine; Election Results Across Europe/BBC News; Results of the 2009 European Elections; View from the Right


Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:10AM   |  Add a comment
Swiss People's Party poster/billboard, 2009 (Photo:Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)

Last month, the Swiss electorate voted for a referendum allowing the free movement of workers in 27 European Union (EU) countries. Almost 60% favored the referendum.

The opposition to the referendum was led by the Swiss People's Party (SVP), the top vote-getting party in parliamentary elections in Switzerland, and producer of the infamous "black sheep" poster of 2007 (see previous blog entry).

This time around, the SVP disseminated a poster that showed several black crows pecking at a map of Switzerland. The crows probably symbolize Romania and Bulgaria (the newest, but poorer countries in the EU), which the SVP believes will flood wealthier Switzerland with workers, taking jobs away from Swiss citizens and increasing costs for
social-welfare benefits.

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 2:23PM   |  Add a comment
Swiss People's Party, "Creating Security," 2007

The 2008 U.S. Republican Party Platform supported border security and English as the official national language, and opposed any amnesty for illegal immigrants. These stands—emphasized by most GOP presidential candidates during the primary campaign and continuing into the general election, particularly by state and local candidates, hurt many Republicans who ran: For example, in 2004, an estimated 39 percent of Latinos voted for George W. Bush; in 2008, only 31 percent voted for John McCain. But at least the U.S. does not have a party whose main purpose is to oppose immigration and immigrants. In other parts of the world, such parties abound.

In France, the increase in the number of immigrants and Arabs with French citizenship helped resurrect Jean-Marie Le Pen’s party, the Front National (FN), which had received little support since Le Pen helped found it in 1972. By 1988, however, Le Pen garnered 14 percent of the vote in the presidential election. The message of protecting white French citizens against the waves of immigrants was summed up on a Le Pen poster with the slogan “Defend our colors.” In 1995, he achieved 15 percent, with a blatant anti-immigrant campaign, marked by an FN poster that stated, “Three million unemployed, that is three million immigrants too many!” Another FN poster included a silhouette of an airplane in front of the setting sun, with the slogan “When we come in … They go out!” And in 2002, Le Pen (with his slogan of “France and the French First”) received almost 17 percent, getting him into a runoff against Jacques Chirac (who defeated him soundly 82 percent to 18 percent). But in the latest French presidential election, last year, Le Pen's share of the vote was down to 10 percent.

Unfortunately, anti-immigrant appeals have been evident in other countries, too. A poster distributed by the Danish People’s Party during the 2001 election showed a young blond girl with the statement, “When she retires, Denmark will be a majority-Muslim nation.”  In the same campaign, Venstre (the Liberal Party) erected a billboard that showed three Asian men, who had been tried for group rape, leaving the court after having been acquitted, with the caption “this will not be tolerated once Venstre gets in.” In that election, Venstre won the most seats in the parliament (a gain of 34 percent) and the People’s Party came in third in seats (a 70-percent increase). The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) achieved even more than its Danish counterpart, winning the most votes in the parliamentary elections of 1999, 2003, and 2007, possibly helped by posters that depicted foreigners as criminals shredding the nation’s flag. In the last elections, the SVP achieved its best result (29 percent), despite (or because of) issuing a subsequently banned poster that depicted three white cartoon sheep kicking a black one off the Swiss flag, as well as the slogan “Creating security” (see the illustration to the right). Anti-immigrant poster campaigns by political parties have also been conducted recently in other European countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, and The Netherlands, as well as in New Zealand.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 5:18PM   |  1 comment
Swedish People's Party of Finland, 1960 (http://en.wikipedia.org)


Finland—according to World Audit—is ranked #1 of the world's countries for "democracy" (after a review of figures on public corruption, human and political rights, free speech, and the rule of law in every country of at least one million people).

The nation conducts presidential elections every six years, selects a parliament every four years, has European Parliament elections every five years, and municipal elections every four years.

There are 13 registered political parties, and 7 other ones that were removed after the 2007 parliamentary elections for failing to win a seat in two consecutive votes. Although the three main parties (Centre, National Coalition, and Social Democratic) gained 2/3 of the seats in the parliament in 2007, the support for them was about the same (23%, 22%, and 21%, respectively), and a coalition government was formed, with the first two parties joining with the Green League and Swedish People's Party (representing the Swedish speakers in Finland). 

In Finland, where legal restrictions are placed on political advertising on television and radio, posters are widely used. Many candidates also have their own Web pages. Nowadays, the posters often show portraits of the candidates, but issues and logos are also represented. For a good sampling of election posters throughout history from the Finnish Social Democratic Party, click on this link.

At the right are two Finnish campaign posters:

  • Swedish People's Party (1960)—advocating for the rights of Swedish speakers (top)
  • Urho Kekkonen for president (1956)—promoting the politician who held office from 1956 until 1982. He was elected the first time by two votes in the electoral college, which was done away with after he left office (bottom)

 

 


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