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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 10:45AM   |  Add a comment
Sarkozy Poster, "La France Forte" (2012)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign has just issued its first poster, now that he has announced his candidacy for re-election. It shows the Aegean Sea in the background with what appears to be a sunrise. The background photo used, as Stella Tsolakidou notes in the Greek Europe Reporter, "has caused bitter comments from his opponents, who have criticized him both for using a Greek landscape instead of a French one and for the way he treated the Greek debt situation."  

The poster's slogan, “La France Forte” (A strong France), is reminiscent of past slogans in the country's election campaigns, particularly "Il faut une France forte" (We need a strong France; Giscard d’Estaing, 1981).

The photo used by Sarkozy's campaign conveys tranquility, with the sunrise (or sunset?) adding to the feeling of peacefulness, a visualization of another 1981 slogan—for François Mitterrand—"la force tranquille" (conveying calm and steady strength).

Of course, a number of parodies of the Sarkozy poster were soon issued, including "La Trance Forte" (A Strong Trance) and “La France Morte” (A Dead France). Here are three links for some Photoshopped parodies: Humores y amores, laseptiemewilaya, and leParisien.fr

French voters go to the polls on April 22, with a probable runoff scheduled for May 6.

For more on French election campaigns and its poster propaganda, see my book, Posters. Propaganda and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 2:00PM   |  Add a comment
Front National Poster (2010) (www.lepenpaca2010.com)

Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National (FN) Party of France has once again issued an anti-immigration poster, titled “No to Islamism,” which borrows greatly from a recent poster distributed by another right-wing European political organization, the Swiss People's Party.

The FN poster attacks "Islamism" and shows a map of France with the Algerian flag imprinted on it, along with seven minarets. The other side of the poster has a woman wearing a veil.

According to France 24, the poster was the key piece in the campaign waged by the FN in the PACA (Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur) region, in which regional elections took place yesterday, and the plan was to plaster it all over France. However, a French court banned the poster—a decision that was appealed and protested on the FN Paca Web site.

The poster might have had an impact, as the FN did best in the Paca region, garnering 21% of the vote there in the first round of the elections, although it gained about 12% nationally. The Socialist Party did best, gaining over 29% nationally, President Nicolas Sarkozy's Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) Party was next with 26%, and the Green party also was supported by 12% of the voters.  The second round is this Sunday. (See Connexion for first-round results.)

The regional elections have candidates contesting seats in France’s 26 regional councils.

Support for Le Pen and the FN, due in large part to its anti-immigration stance, has increased since he founded the party in 1972, but he and the FN typically are supported by under 15% of French voters.

To read more about anti-immigrant propaganda in election campaigns, click here.


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.


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