Electoral publicity interpreted honestly: PL. Series of IPN analyses. Elections-2014

Most of the election runners entered the campaign preceding the November 30 parliamentary elections with electoral TV videos, posters, slogans and advertisements. By definition, the publicity is biased, but in the election campaign it represents the type of information that the voters accept most often. That’s why IPN decided to launch a series of analyses entitled “Electoral publicity interpreted honestly” by which to contribute to developing the political culture, analyzing neutrally the subtleties of the electoral advertisements. The election runners are analyzed in accordance with their position in ballots.

Wasteful party

The Liberal Party (PL) is a party that didn’t fully realize the potential that some projected this party has in 2007. On the center-right segment, the PL was quickly constricted by the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) and had thus to limit itself to those who earlier voted mainly for the Christian-Democratic People’s Party (PPCD). The Christian-Democrats lost their voters after the PPCD formed an alliance with the Communist Party (PCRM). When this party returned recently to the political arena, Iurie Rosca announced a new ideological orientation so that the Liberals can keep their conservative and traditionalist pro-Romania voters. This fact is in evident contraction with the party’s nominal ideology, but it seems that this detail does not bother many people. The PL identifies itself with what the PPCD was at the level of voters and at the level of attitudes and as regards the promoted policies and the relations with the other parties. As in the case of the Communists, the PL has almost guaranteed, supporters, but they are limited in number. Mihai Ghimpu’s hesitation about unionism distances many of the supporters: those who are ‘for’ are disappointed, while those who are ‘against’ are distanced.

Dorin Chirtoaca could have become a national leader: during the protests of April 2009, the people didn’t chant “Urecheanu” or ”Filat”, but “Chirtoaca”. It was a huge potential to exploit, direct and channel extraordinary social energies, but the deputy chairman of the PL didn’t have the will or experience needed to take the necessary step. In 2011, he was narrowly elected mayor of Chisinau municipality, with the open support of the PLDM and the unprecedented mobilization of the voters. Today, a large part of those who voted for him are dissatisfied with his work as mayor. The fact that during the Alliance for European Integration Mihai Ghimpu was acting head of state for a period left Chirtoaca somehow in the shadow and now the PL’s image is associated irreversibly with the image of Ghimpu, who enjoys the sympathy of some, but is disliked by as many. Chirtoaca could have attracted many supporters, but Ghimpu’s personality limits significantly the Liberals’ electoral base.

New campaign, new chance

When the Liberals left the government coalition, many criticized them for endangering the country’s European course. However, today namely that move gives them an electoral advantage: the PL was in power and can boast of certain accomplishments, but is now in the opposition so that it can criticize the government and detach itself from its failures. Disseminating a message that is shared by most of the parties and is aimed against the Democratic Party (PDM) and PLDM, which are classed as oligarchic clans, the Liberals have the chance to exploit the pro-European votes lost by these parties.

The first step is simple: less Ghimpu and more Chirtoaca, but a more concentrated and a better organized Chirtoaca. This step was taken only partially. The second is to promote a new team, of young people whom the people have waited since 2007, but who would not be like Valeriu Munteanu or Ion Ciobanu. The people want to see new, competent and charismatic people, not only young people who seem to be the speaking trumpet of the party veterans (Ghimpu, Fusu, Salaru, etc.). The PL promises the change, but does not look like a modern party. The key word is ‘look’. Regardless of the situation inside them, the PDM and PLDM carry out campaigns that show that they are modern and well-organized parties with large and competent teams. The PL is yet dependent on the emotional vote of people who vote mainly for leaders and values rather than for the team and deeds.

The PL’s slogan shows rather well this lack of modernization of the party’s image: “With the PL in the NATO and EU!”. The message expresses rather clearly the party’s objectives, including one that is as popular as the European integration: entry into NATO. It is a geopolitical option that is supported by a limited number of people in Moldova, but, given that not many parties plead for it, the Liberals decided to profit from this unfilled niche and to exploit it. However, the message is uninspired.

Principles and values

The first video clip starts with a lesson about the PL: “The Liberal Party is an authentically liberal party. Its principles include national identity, freedom and dignity, responsibility, honesty and tolerance, market economy and the rule of law.” The phrase ‘authentically liberal’ is interesting as the PL is a powerfully traditionalist and conservator party. It is probably intended as a contrast with the Liberal-Reformists, who are not ‘authentically liberal’. O the one hand, the message is educative, especially because many of the supporters of the PL cannot boast of tolerance. On the other hand, it is a half-video that does not attract and lacks force and creativity. The images are not spectacular. They show mostly scenes of the party’s meetings. Corina Fusu says the PL “will ensure peace, security and welfare by European integrator and entry into NATO”, while the images include pictures of the People’s House or the Parliament Palace of Bucharest, which is a ‘present’ for the unionist supporters of the party. The Liberals also make reference to the military aggressions of Russia and the USSR, showing Russian tanks and Dorin Chirtoaca at the monument to victims of Soviet deportations, while Corina Fusu speaks about decent living conditions with no fear and repression.

War and peace, poverty and welfare

The second video clip starts unexpectedly: several children play with a grenade near ruins. Sounds of war are heard. But the tragic potential of such a scene is lost when a contrasting scene is shown, with children playing with a ball in a sunny courtyard, accompanied by the message “No to Russian occupation, yes to Romanian freedom”. This opposition can attract only voters that have already such an attitude, while the educative purpose of the message – to show to the voters what Russia means and what Romanian means – does not work because of the brute simplicity of the video. Towards the end, Mihai Ghimpu asks: “What life do you choose for your children?”, as if trying to convince those who still have doubts: those children could be yours. Maybe this contrast between peace and war would have had a greater electoral impact if it hadn’t been fully covered by the Russia-Romania opposition. Mihai Ghimpu does not forget about rhyme, which seems to be a pillar of the PL’s campaign: “Together with dignity towards unity!”.

The third video clip is based on a similar scenario: we see first a family living in poverty and dirty children eating some bread – “No to communist hunger” – and then a family sitting at a full, but not opulent table – “Yes to the Liberal welfare”. The formula is simple as in the first case. The only advantage is that Dorin Chirtoaca is shown instead of Ghimpu, but the mayor is also fond of rhymes: “Order and welfare with the PL everywhere”.

The fourth video clip is almost identical to the second, but the contrast ‘occupation-freedom’ is replaced by ‘humiliation-dignity’. All the rest is the same – children, war and rhymes.

In general, the PL’s campaign is disappointing not because it is of a poor quality – it is simple. But not all the parties have millions of lei to spend on campaigns and the Liberals anyway did better than other parties. But they didn’t exploit the betrayal of their former party colleagues and the possible alliance with their former coalition partners. The Liberals also do not show what Dorin Chirtoaca did in Chisinau municipality while serving as mayor. It is strange as the mayor is a rather controversial figure in Chisinau, while the PL needs the votes of those from outside Chisinau, who follow the news from the capital city with less attention. These people deserve a video where the Liberals would boast of their accomplishments with Chirtoaca as mayor.

Note: This analysis refers strictly to the publicity of the election runners and does not aim to assess their quality. The bad products can have good publicity and vice versa, as the good products can have good publicity. Earlier, IPN made an analysis of the electoral publicity of the Democratic Party, which was published on November 6, of the Christian Democratic People’s Party, which was published on November 7, of the Liberal Democratic Party, which was published on November 10, of the Liberal Reformist Party, which was published on November 11, of the People’s Force Party, which was published on November 12, and of the People’s Movement Antimafie”, which was published on November 13. and of the National Liberal Party, which was published on November 17, and of the Party of Socialists, which was published on November 18, and of the People’s Party, which was published on November 19, and of the Communist Party, which was published on Noevmebr 21

Eugen Muravschi, IPN

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