Monthly Archives: June 2016

Scare tactics remain as mainstay in electioneering

Dr Chris Kossen

The Labor Party’s statements that Medicare will be privatised under a Liberal Government or the Liberal Party’s dire warnings of Labor economic management. Donald Trump fomenting fear about Islamic extremism or Hilary Clinton telling voters they will be worse off under Trump. It must be election time.

Election campaigns are interesting because they involve a particular style of public relations tactics and messaging. Campaigning by the Liberal/National and Australian Labor Party for the July 2016 election highlights the specialised but also predictable pitching used to persuade voters.

In the political context, core strategies become constant: (1) to win government, by promoting credentials with positively framed messaging, and (2) discrediting opponents with negatively framed tactics and messaging for the same purpose.

Intense repetition as a tactic, also underpins the effort to ‘stay on message’ and ensure message consistency. It is used to penetrate public consciousness and gain vital political traction.

The key positively themed slogan developed by the Liberal/Nationals in this campaign is ‘Jobs and Growth’. The underpinning messages underpinning these three words: (1) economic growth provides the path to jobs growth and (2) that these are the conditions necessary to ensure future prosperity and security for Australians.

A heavy reliance on relentless attacking of opponents also features highly in the art of persuasion in political campaigning. Instilling fear is regarded as an exceedingly effective tactic in the high powered battleground of political communication.

The Liberal/Nationals ‘debit and deficit’ attack slogan is framed as a warning on the perils that would ensue if Labor were to win government. It is based on an assertion that Labor, are by nature, high spending and high taxing. And that this policy mix would destroy the ‘growth and jobs’, upon which the future of Australia depends.
The slogan, ‘budget repair’ reinforces ‘debit and deficit’ invoking the idea that the budget is broken, and it is Labor who have broken it.

Labor in reply, coined the key slogan ‘Budget repair that’s fair’ which uses positive framing i.e. fairness, combined with implicit negative framing, that is, that the Liberal/Nationals are not fair. This message also attempts to confront the ‘debit and deficit’ idea that Labor is fiscally incompetent by acknowledging that budget repair is indeed a key priority.

It is also interesting to see that the campaign rhetoric of both sides draws heavily on traditional political mythologies of class warfare so often associated with times gone past.

ALSO Chris’s LinkedIn Slideshare Persuasion Tactics 2016 Australian Election Campaign Launch