Posters and Election Propaganda About this blog

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 2:38PM   |  Add a comment
National Equal Rights Party, Belva Lockwood (1884) [Wilson article]

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for the presidency of the United States. A one-time actress, spiritualist, prostitute, and free-love advocate, she was a member of the Marxist International Workingmen's Association. She was also 76-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt's lover, and (with his advice) did quite well in investing. She and her sister soon became the first women to establish a banking and brokerage company on Wall Street. By 1870, the two sisters had the means to publish Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, which covered such topics as women's suffrage and labor-management issues.

Also in 1870, Woodhull announced her intention to run for president—even though women did not have the right to vote (and would not gain it until 1920). In early 1871, she testified before the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of women suffrage. Her speech impressed several leaders of the suffrage movement, including Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Woodhull soon rose to a leadership position.

In January 1872, the National Women Suffrage Association nominated Woodhull to run for president. Her campaign platform supported a woman's right to vote, free love, nationalization of land, fair wages, and much more. Woodhull ran under the banner of the new Equal Rights Party, but her name was not printed on ballots and write-in votes for her were not counted, as Ulysses S. Grant won a second term.

The next women to run for president was Belva Lockwood in 1884. A lawyer, as well as a leader in the women's suffrage movement, Lockwood also ran as a candidate of the Equal Rights Party. Her platform not only called for women to be given the right to vote, but also advocated for civil service reform, Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants,  protection of public lands, and temperance. She ran an energetic campaign, but the mainstream candidates—Grover Cleveland and James Blaine—refused to debate her. Lockwood garnered 4,149 votes (in the six states that allowed her name on ballots), as Cleveland won. Anthony and Stanton supported Blaine. Lockwood also ran four years later, with her vote total unknown.

After the results were announced in 1884, Lockwood declared that most men hang on to "old ideas, developed in the days of chivalry," but that "equality of rights and privileges is but simple justice."

The campaign itself witnessed much Lockwood paraphernalia, including stickpins, mechanical paper cards, ribbons, tickets, tobacco cards, and magazine cartoons.

Sources: Women in History: Victoria Woodhull—; Ballot Access News:; Jill Norgren, Belva Lockwood Blazing the Trail for Women in Law:; Jack Wilson (2008, Summer/Fall/Winter), "Belva Lockwood for President," The Keynoter.

Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:59PM   |  Add a comment
Kip Overton, ''Liberty Leading the People,'' Montana Citizens for Liberty, Inc., 1984

Now that John McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be on his ticket, let's look at a poster that was produced in support of the only other woman to run for vice president. In 1984, Democrat Walter Mondale picked New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate. That year, the Montana Citizens for Liberty produced a poster that featured Ferraro as Liberty (based on the Eugène Delacroix painting "Liberty at the Barricades," done after the Paris Revolution of 1830) and advocated passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (Mondale is shown holding an ERA banner). The Delacroix work depicted a bare-breasted Liberty. Of course, the later version had Ferraro covered. At least 70,000 copies of the 1984 poster were printed. The illustration gained attention and helped raise money for democratic candidates. It now sells for about $70. A Hillary Clinton pin based on the Delacroix's work sold at auction for more than $1,000.

Women gained the right to vote in the United States in 1920. In Great Britain, they obtained full voting rights in 1928; in France, females first exercised their suffrage rights in 1946 (even though Liberty or Marianne had been illustrated as a woman in that country in the eighteenth century); Switzerland did not accomplish this until 1971. Election campaign posters in many countries targeted women, particularly in the period right after their enfranchisement. For example, a British poster in the 1930s showed a woman holding a child, with the appeal “Mothers—Vote Labour.”

Suffragettes in the early nineteenth century pasted posters on walls: one large lithograph featured babies marching under the title “Give Mother The Vote: We Need It”; others showed professional women, some of whom wore caps and gowns decrying their lack of suffrage (one poster was titled “Convicts, Lunatics, and Women! Have No Vote for Parliament”).

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