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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 history”

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 2:30PM   |  Add a comment
Obama Campaign 2012 Slogan (BarackObama.com)

I've already blogged extensively about political campaign slogans, which began in 1840 in the U.S. to support the Whig ticket of William Henry Harrison (“The Hero of Tippecanoe”—during the War of 1812) and John Tyler: "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too." Other good slogans followed, both at home and abroad. In the U.S., there have been some clever ones, including the Republican Party's "We Polked you in 1844; we shall Pierce you in 1852," "Lincoln's "Vote Yourself a Farm" (1860) and "Don't swap horses in midstream" (1864), Harding's "Let’s be done with wiggle and wobble" (1920), and Coolidge's "Keep Cool With Coolidge" (1924) [for some more, see this BuzzFeed Politics blog post]; and in other countries, there were the African National Congress's "A Better Life for All" (South Africa, 1994) and the National Action Party's "Enough Already!" (Mexico, 2000).

In the 2008 U.S. presidential contest, Republican John McCain's campaign was characterized by several slogans—one of which was "Country First," which was partially a tactic to distance McCain from President Bush and the Republican Party; partially an attempt to stress McCain's heroism during the Vietnam War; and partially a veiled effort to cast suspicion on Obama's patriotism (as I stated then). Democrat Barack Obama's main slogan, "Yes We Can," was probably more effective, as was his "Change we can believe in"—both being so positive and inclusive.

Back in February of this year, Jeff Mason speculated about the President's new slogan, saying that the Obama campaign was "roadtesting" several, including "Winning The Future" and "Greater Together."

Clearly, there still are economic problems that need to be addressed, and the new slogan would have to connote "resolve" and "leadership." Does "Forward" (which debuted in a seven-minute-plus video to promote President Obama's re-election) do that? Perhaps so, but probably no one slogan would be perfect. Here's what Obama said a few months ago: "Inspiration is wonderful, nice speeches are wonderful, pretty posters, that's great. But what's required at the end of the day to create the kind of country we want is stick-to-it-ness. It's determination. It's saying, 'We don't quit.'"

What about the past buzz words, "hope" and "change"? On those, David Axelroad, the president's key campaign adviser, stated: "This election is also about hope and about change. That doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be in the slogan."

How about Mitt Romney's slogan, "Believe in America"? To me, it appears that his campaign strategists are trying to emulate Ronald Reagan and his 1984 "Morning in America" campaign.



Posted by Steven Seidman at 12:30PM   |  2 comments
Magyar Democratic Forum, "Comrades, the End!" (1990)

The Hungarian parliamentary elections are set for April 11 and 25. Hungary has had democratic elections since it ended Soviet domination in 1989.

The center-right Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz) is favored to win by a large margin over the ruling Socialists by promising to boost the economy by cutting taxes, as well as cutting debt, according to Reuters. One poll shows Fidesz with 47% backing and the party in power with only 12%. As in the United States, job creation is key, with unemployment in both countries around 10%.

Two other parties have some support: the right-wing Jobbik (9%) and the conservative Magyar Democratic Forum (3%).

The Democratic Forum (MDF) won Hungary’s first victory post-Communist parliamentary election in 1989, but has been in decline since and needs to attract at least 5% of the total vote to gain any of the seats available by proportional representation. Hungary's electoral system is complicated (click here for more on it, as well as results of recent elections).

After the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the Hungarian Communist Party disbanded and reestablished itself as the Hungarian Socialist Party.

The posters displayed in Hungarian election campaigns are often quite creative. One MDF poster featured a trash bin, along with symbols of the old regime (i.e., a statue of Stalin, Mao’s and Kim Il Sung’s writings, the Communist Party newspaper); another illustrated the back of a bullnecked Soviet soldier, and pasted over his hat the message “Comrades, the End!” in Russian (see figure). The MDF raised funds by selling thousands of copies of this poster. Moreover, its imagery had such appeal that it resurfaced in 1991 in demonstrations in the Baltic countries.

Hungary had earlier experienced democracy. In 1848, a “peaceful revolution,” led by Lajos Kossuth, freed the country from the Austrian Habsburg Empire and a constitutional monarchy was created, which was short lived. To learn more about the political history and election posters of Hungary, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.


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