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Posters and Election Propaganda

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

Tagged as “political campaigns”

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 8:12PM   |  Add a comment
Pro-Independence for Scotland Poster


The referendum on whether or not Scotland will be an independent country will take place on September 18, 2014.

Heated campaigns have been going on for months, both for and against independence from the United Kingdom, with Web sites, videos, and posters produced.

Here is a Web site with practically every medium advocating for independence: http://www.indyposterboy.info/better-together-scaremongering.asp 

And here is one that lists resources for the "Better Together" campaign: http://bettertogether.net/pages/resources

The latest polls indicate that the vote may be close: http://whatscotlandthinks.org/questions/should-scotland-be-an-independent-country-1#line


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 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 4:40PM   |  Add a comment
Web Banner, Congress Party (India) (http://www.congress.org.in)

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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