Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sad, boring election campaign

Polish MPs decided last week the campaign for the October general elections will be sad and boring. They arrived at the conclusion that voters are little kids and cannot take dirty low-down mud-slinging from politicians. In order to ensure the campaign is clean, they decided to ban political TV ads.

This of course might not change anything, but I think it will be one of those elements that in hindsight helps shape the election result.

I bet the centre-right Civic Platform (PO) still remembers well the "Mordo Ty Moja" spot run by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) in 2007 -- this is probably one of the best political ads ever done in Poland -- and probably supported the ad ban as a preemptive move to limit potential damage from similar spots.

The group of ex-PiS moderates, PJN, who proposed the change, the co-ruling Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) could also all benefit from the change. The PSL has no one to show who wouldn't actually scare away voters. The SLD is in a similar position. PJN has no money to pay for decent ads and thus a ban is certainly in its best interest.

The biggest loser is definitely PiS, which has the best track record of using TV ads to its advantage and operates best when tempers flare and people sling crap at each other. PiS needs to be aggressive, on the offensive, accusatory, and TV is the best tool for that. The last thing PiS boss Jaroslaw Kaczynski wants is a slow, quiet campaign, but the TV ad restriction will work in that direction.

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