Campaigning in Europe: From Propaganda to Political Marketing

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Course Information
Political Science
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in. - H. L. Mencken

Politics is as old as humankind, and the electoral campaign – political parties seeking to win voter support in the period preceding an election – is one of the fundamental moments of the democratic life of every society.

Candidates use a variety of techniques to reach voters: the effort to execute or banish Socrates from Athens in the 5th Century BC or the uprising of petty nobility against John of England in the 13th Century can be considered examples of proto-political campaigns. But nowadays established democracies seem to be witnessing a decline in vitality in that formal political systems are not able to mobilize the support and engagement of citizens as in the past: we are facing a decline in civic engagement, a decreasing voter turnout during elections and a significant decline in party membership. To face this situation politicians have to create new ways to get closer to people, such as the application of marketing principles and procedures in political campaigns.

The main focus of this interdisciplinary course is to provide the student with a complete understanding of both the development of political campaigns through history and the relations between political systems and political campaigns.