Electoral publicity interpreted honestly: PPCD. Series of IPN analyses. Election Campaign 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.

A new emblem marks reorientation of doctrine

The reappearance of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (PPCD) on the political arena is definitely interesting: a new emblem, a new slogan and even a new ideology. The old heart with the image of Stephan the Great surrounded by the European stars was replaced by a sword on a khaki background, accompanied by the words ‘Rosca Plan’. Not many parties change their emblem so radically, whereas the PPCD’s decision is not only a stylistic whim. In particular, an element of the old emblem is incompatible with the party’s new ideological direction: the European stars. The Christian-Democrats have always considered themselves the real successors of the People’s Front and the apogee of their popularity and activities was in the period of the anti-Communist protests of the start of the 2000s, when the PPCD was a unionist, pro-Romanian and pro-European party. The new ideology of the Christian-Democrats is yet conservative and traditionalist, incompatible in principle with the European doctrine of tolerance and liberalism, while the head of the party’s list Iurie Rosca said in this campaign that he wants the Association Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement with the EU to be renegotiated.

A new PPCD, a new Rosca

According to the chairman of the PPCD Victor Ciobanu, the sword represents the sprit of justice, the punishment of injustice, riddance of wrongdoings, triumph of the truth, the fight against corruption and the man’s dignity. The message of this element of the emblem is rather clear and underlines the combative character of the new PPCD and, simultaneously, the authoritarian line of its doctrine. These elements are highlighted by the khaki color, which, in collective conscience, is associated with military uniforms and, implicitly, with discipline and authority. The wording transmits the message that the PPCD has a plan, which, for the ordinary people, means something more concrete and achievable than strategies, platforms or programs. The concreteness of the plan resides in the fact that it contains a name: ‘Rosca Plan’. The use of the name of the Christian-Democratic leader is a choice that can split opinions. His alliance with the Communist Party between 2005 and 2009, considered by a large part of the own supporters as betrayal, and the fact that he later didn’t pass the election threshold made many regard him as a ‘political dead body’ with no prospects and credibility. However, after an absence of several years from the political arena, time during which the Christian-Democrats probably hoped that the public antipathy towards Iurie Rosca would disappear or would at least diminish sufficiently, he reappears as a leader with a wide and simultaneously concrete view.

The image of the new Rosca is inspired by and is deeply rooted in the autocratic patriarchal model typical of the eastern European, Orthodox civilization: he is an ideologist or author of laws and traditions and, also, the ruler of the nation and country. In the period during which Iurie Rosca and PPCD were absent from the political arena, when this doctrine-related rebranding occurred, the Christian-Democrats reoriented themselves to the Russian conservative ideologies, while the new image of Rosca expectedly combines features of Aleksandr Dughin and Vladimir Putin.

“Iron hand”

The PPCD’s video clip starts with the emblem described above, followed by a short speech of Iurie Rosca, who is dressed in a khaki shirt, which in fact seems a kind of campaign uniform of the Christian-Democrats. The start of the speech - “Attention! I come back!”-  can be considered comical or invigorating, depending on the attitude to Rosca’s show. However, for the neutral voters this message means that Rosca realizes that the people have questions as to his absence during several years. The absence and the return are justified in two ways: (1) in this period the Christian-Democratic leader worked out the Plan, and (2) the country needs him. The assertions are vociferous and solid both as message and as sound. “I come back to bring things in order. We need an iron hand to manage the state” are designed to inspire confidence, safety and élan. However, those who are more skeptic can consider them ‘exaggeratedly exaggerated’: it’s impossible for the PPCD to win a sufficient number of votes for bringing things in order and managing the country with the iron hand of Iurie Rosca, and, more realistically, if it wants to come to power, the PPCD will have to negotiate a coalition with other parties. The message is aimed at exploiting the people’s distrust and disappointment in the current government coalition, the political class and even democracy. The people are tired of the misunderstandings between those who rule, of election camions full of empty promises and of the settling of old scores between the mafia and oligarchs. An iron hand is in indeed needed to put things right in such a situation.

What is it the ‘Rosca Plan’?

“The ‘Rosca Plan” represents faith, national unity, economic patriotism and permanent neutrality,” says the leader of the PPCD in the video. These are the four pillars that support the Christian-Democratic platform. Here, there are again elements showing authoritarian, if not totalitarian tendencies. National unity for Iurie Rosca evidently does not mean the European unity in diversity. In the case of the PPCD, the unity is based on the Christian-Orthodox faith and this unity cannot include the sexual minorities or the ethnic-religious minorities such as the Jews for example. Combined with the sword from the emblem and the ‘iron hand’, the suspicions concerning certain totalitarian undertones are confirmed.

The economic patriotism and permanent neutrality remind about the famous phrase “through ourselves”. The PPCD is trying to profit from the electoral niche that seems to appear between the pro-European parties and the parties promoting the Customs Union and to gain an advantage, banking on the old proverb “Where two are fighting, the third wins”.

‘Conversion’ of voters

Even if it does not say it, the PPCD has a realistic goal: a low electoral score that will be yet sufficient for passing the election threshold, and convinced supporters. The PPCD counts a lot on the distribution of the booklets with the ‘Rosca Plan’, which do not require great attention and effort to be read. It is an intensive rather than an expansive campaign: they aim not to convince as many voters as possible, but to have a small number of supporters who will be yet convinced and faithful. To a certain extent, this persuasion tactic reminds of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minority religious organizations carrying out conversion campaigns.

The target public of the PPCD’s messages is rather in village and districts, where the patriarchal model is yet not challenged. In Chisinau, the PPCD banks probably on a part of its former supporters and on a small group of educated and cultured people, who understand and consciously share this doctrine.

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.

Eugen Muravschi, IPN

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