Electoral publicity interpreted honestly: PNL. 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.

In search of the lost Union

The National Liberal Party of Moldova (PNL) is the most pro-Romanian and unionist party, but this fact seriously limits the number of its possible supporters. Those who want Moldova to unite with Romania are in the minority in society and this is a fact. Regretfully for the PNL, a part of them support the idea of reunion within the European Union, which seems more moderate and realistic. On this electoral segment, the PNL is in direct competition with the Liberal Party, the Liberal Reformist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party to a smaller extent. These are all parties that were or are in power and can come before the voters to say that ‘we did this thing and that thing’. The PNL hasn’t been in such a privileged position. Therefore, the PNL’s tactic is not a moderation tactic, with general, semi-abstract slogans, and a tactic to attract as many voters as possible. The PNL comes with a concrete, radical message for some, banking namely on the fact that no other party promises and pleads openly and directly for Moldova’s union with Romania. The PNL aims thus to attract convinced unionists who are tired of vague promises, which are afterward interpreted moderately like reunion within the EU. It is a trenchant approach to the problem, of the ‘yes or no’ type, aimed at attracting convinced voters. But is also reduces the number of possible voters.

As to the situation concerning the PNL’s slogan, it is slightly ambiguous: which is the main slogan?
“Union gives power”, “Together we will realize the Reunification in 2018” or “In Europe through Romania”? Or all of them? The first is a slogan that has been used widely by unionist organizations of Moldova and Romania. It is succinct, sonorous and focuses on the old saying “there is no power, where there is one and the power grows where there are two”. The second is rather a promise, but inspires confidence and force by the concrete date and has the capacity to mobilize. The third has also an educative note. How to get to Europe? Is it designed to combat the opposite logic used by other parties, which we already mentioned – that of a quasi-reunion with Romanian by the European integration.

The National-Liberals have the same name, emblem and colors as the homonymous party of Romania. This underlines even more their pro-Romanian orientation, though some can say that such an approach lacks originality and individuality. The combination of yellow-blue colors is recognized and does not overlap with the colors of other parties. The emblem is minimalist: an arrow moving upward representing the change, growth, development and progress. It is yet probably too modern and minimalist for the people who vote for the hammer and sickle, the oak tree or the eagle.

An innovative leader

As regards the leadership, the PNL is the only party headed by a woman, but it didn’t manage to capitalize on this thing owing to the trenchant position on the Union and to the voters who are used to gravitate towards parties led by powerful male figures. Vitalia Pavlichenco is yet an active and energetic leader and the fact that she intensely uses the online resources, including her blog, is a great plus for her. This is important for a small party with insufficient financial resources to promote itself by the traditional methods. A minus is her involvement in controversies, including her alleged collaboration with the KGB. Regardless of the correctness of the accusations, they significantly affected the image of Vitalia Pavlichenco because particularly the voters of the PNL are very sensitive to such rumors.

Veterans attack

The video clip of the PNL starts with documentary scenes filmed during the Nistru armed conflict. The soundtrack is one of the most popular Romanian patriotic songs “Cross the Carpathians, Romanian battalions!”. Afterward, the members of the Association of Veterans “Tiras-Tighina”, headed by Anatol Caraman, call on the people of good faith to head for Europe through Romania. The presence of veterans and fighting scenes is designed to inspire the viewers and awaken their patriotism and feelings of solidarity and gratitude for the veterans. The message wants to create certain conditionality: if you are of good faith, you are like us and must vote together with us. “Union gives power!” say the veterans in chorus. There is also confusion about the PNL’s slogan: it’s simply not clear what this slogan is.

In continuation, the video presents a kind of rather childish graphic effects: the PNL’s arrow turns into a needle that sews the rupture between Moldova and Romania and the two countries merge together into the map of Great Romania. The message is clear, but the graphic form by which it is transmitted is not very impressive and looks like a school creativity attempt. On the background, there is another unionist song where the singer says that “Romania is our country and we want to unite with it!”.

The next character in the video is Andrei Iurie-Apostol. “I’m the first chairman of the PNL and I’m proud that we are close to the Union,” he says amid the map of Great Romania with images of vineyards and grapes in the background. The first chairman of the PNL may be known among the members and supporters of this party, not yet among the other voters and his presence in the video is designed to rather mobilize the current voters of the PNL than to attract new voters. After him, a young man says awkwardly that “we, the young people, also want in the EU through Romania”. It is a naïve and inefficient attempt to attract young people: it’s not enough to make a young man say that he supports you to convince the others that they should also support you, especially because there are many very active young unionists, from civic and political viewpoints, and more effort and subtlety are needed to ‘recruit’ this energetic group.

In the end, Vitalia Pavlichenco, having images of unionist events in the background and the song “Union Round Dance” as soundtrack, implies that the members of the PNL should unite with the supporters of the Union by saying “we, the unionist National-Liberals”. Even if all the National-Liberals are unionists, not all the unionists are National-Liberals, while Vitalia Pavlichenco tries to transform a partial overlapping into a full one in order to attract the other unionists to the PNL’s camp. The final call says: “you should go together with the PNL towards the Reunification of 2018. God help us!”. 2018 was chosen for its significance: it is the year when it will be 100 years of the Great Union of 1918. However, “together with the PNL” not “with the ahead PNL” shows that the party is not fully confident in its power to move things on in this direction by itself. A question appears thus: if the PNL does not have the power to attain the Union by itself, who will realize the Reunification of 2018 if it’s the only party that pleads for the Union?

Bearers of the unionist flame

The PNL seems to be aware of its slim chances of entering Parliament, but undertakes the mission of keeping the unionist flame burning on the political arena. Even if civil society includes a number of pro-unionists organizations and associations, on the political arena the PNL is the only party that openly pleads for the direct union with Romania. It is a kind of role of Don Quixote, which is necessary for the unionist movement on the whole. The National-Liberals must be yet careful: if they fail too many times to enter Parliament, the image of unionism in Moldova can be associated with a weak political party without supporters and resources, which is exactly the opposite of what the National-Liberals and the other unionists want.

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.

Eugen Muravschi, IPN

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