The context of a choice can be crucial

The context of a choice can be crucial

Der Kontext einer Wahl kann entscheidend seinWhether a choice or a vote is won or lost, depends, sometimes, from the context of factors and events, which can influence the actors. In the case of the election to the Bundestag in 1998, a change was underway. This is not 2017. The Federal election will take place in the context of a prospering economy and international uncertainties.

In every election, there are factors and circumstances that can affect. Some of you already know from the beginning, others have joined suddenly in the course of the election campaign. The Bundestag election 2017 takes place in the context of a prospering economy and international uncertainties. Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel plays into the hands. The election to the Bundestag fight 2002, a natural disaster and an international crisis to help the SPD with Chancellor Schröder. The SPD was in the opinion polls. Schröder’s statesmanlike handling with the newly-occurred events of the “flood” and “threat of war” in Iraq” gave him a boost. Note: The unexpected event in the hot Phase of the election campaign alone is not enough, you have to use it skillfully and to present himself as a statesman, and to Some of the Nation know. After the attack on the Madrid subway on March 11. In March 2004, the Spanish Prime Minister, José María Aznar, accused prompt an underground organisation, ETA, and even brought to the UN security Council, “the terrorist group Euskadi ta Aska tasuna (ETA) on 11. March 2004 to condemn the Madrid bomb attacks” (Resolution 1530 of 11. March, 2004). This false accusation has cost his party in the parliamentary elections of 14. March 2004, almost seven percentage points in vote share and him in his office. An event of historical significance can wear a unpopular leaders out of the Deep, such as George W. Bush after 9/11 in 2001, or Helmuth Kohl after the German reunification in 1990. The Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was able to raise its profile after the attacks of Anders Behring Breivik in 2011, in which 77 people were killed; the parliamentary elections in 2013, he won nevertheless.

The Swiss people’s party won in 2015, thanks to the “refugee crisis”

It is the larger political context of the “refugee crisis” in Europe, which the Swiss people’s party in the parliamentary elections of 18. October 2015 an increase in the voter share of 2.8 percentage points, and eleven additional mandates in the national Council. Now, each election is held, as said above, in front of a larger political Background, are not able to influence the actors. But that is a steep pass for a party that has become, thanks to the themes of refugees, Migration, and foreigners to the strongest political power in Switzerland, just at the peak of the election campaign, is rather rare. The media agenda of the Swiss media was marked in September 2015, there is even greater refugee crisis than from the actual campaign. The fortuitous meeting of a political situation with the elections determined the political balance of power in Switzerland for four years.

The Image of world-known politicians may belong to the context. After a “procrastinator” as an incumbent, a candidate with the Image of a determined-maker may have good chances of Election. After the Era of George W. Bush, during the had suffered from the Image of the United States in the world, had yearned for many of the voters to a President that made the country the world again sympathetic, and that was 2008 Barack Obama. In an environment of politicians like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Viktor Orbán, a Chancellor had a candidate like Martin Schulz, who is regarded as honest and grounded as a contrast.

A “Hunger for Change” carried Obama to victory

In the case of the US presidential elections of 2008, the existing context contributed to the victory of Barack Obama. In the US, a “Hunger for Change prevailed”. Foreign policy, the world had to go it alone in the USA, as in Iraq, tired of war. Domestically, George W. Bush had established a reputation as a splitter and not as a reconciler, his popularity was at a low point. The financial crisis burst in the middle of Action in the hot Phase of the election campaign, and demanded swift and decisive. The personal profile of Obama was in a completely different way than it was used in Washington; it is awakening, hope, reconciliation, mediated. “Yes we can” was the appropriate Slogan. 2012 had changed the context. The political limits of Obama had become apparent, the euphoria was gone. Conservative movements such as the Tea Party movement received the upper water. Major topics of the blockages in the Congress, health reform, and Migration. Shortly before the election, there were no new events as four years before the financial crisis. Even if a lot of Obama were disappointed voters, so Obama is the lesser Evil than Mitt Romney, the opponent missed successful the Image of the aloof millionaire.

There are also contextual factors that are not in the short term, but in the longer term, the policy can be designed, such as the right to vote, and in particular the electoral system. In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro was the rules of the game for the election of the constituent Assembly at the end of July, so manipulating that he had a comfortable majority on a safe. The political culture of a society is decisive for what is not legally standardized methods and behaviors in an election campaign are accepted and which are not. To a holder or a Clown good for? How far are you allowed to vilify the opponent? How will the election accept the results? How do winners with losers? This can be, depending on the political culture in different ways.

The context is not, as already said, by the Candidates can be influenced. Officials of large Nations such as the USA, but can change by your decisions to the context, when it comes to military issues, foreign relations or the economy. If you stay in the back, will play this question, of course, in the case of all “major decisions” of a role. The US President Carter arranged “Operation Eagle Claw” from 24. April 1980 to free the U.S. Embassy in Tehran held 53 hostages was a failure. This was one of the reasons for the non-re-election of Jimmy Carter at the 4. November 1980. In July 2015, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made about the result of the parliamentary elections of 7. June 2015, in the case of the Kurds close to the democratic party of the peoples of skipped the (high) Ten-percent-hurdle and into Parliament moved in and his AKP, the absolute majority lost, to correct in his own way. He said the peace process with the Kurds. The Turkish air force attacked the quarters of the Kurds in Northern Iraq. This should prepare the ground for early parliamentary elections of 1. November 2015, in which the AKP again won the majority of Seats. The conflict with Western European countries around the prohibitions of performances by Turkish members of the government, in the spring of 2017 abroad for adoption of the constitutional referendum of 16. April, advertise, should, called, probably, caused outrage in a calculated manner and was excellent for the mobilisation of the Electorate.

Which is the “Zeitgeist”?

Every choice takes place in a specific political and economic Situation, and under a certain “Zeitgeist“, although this term is not so clear to grasp. The election campaign takes place against the Background of a specific mood of the society. How is the General mood? It is a departure, a change, or a mood? There is nostalgia, or rather Insistence or future piety? What hopes and Fears? What concerns people the most? The spirit of the age is also decisive in determining what messages, topics and people arrive. The question is, who determines the spirit of the times. This is not like the fashion of the sky. Most of the time he cannot be but influenced by actors in the electoral struggle; and increasingly captured he can be. To take a more recent example: The “Arab spring” of 2011, triggered in North Africa and the Middle East, a great spirit of optimism. 2017 is not feel a lot of it. Most of the former activists are disillusioned, the old elites are back in Power, safety is more important than freedom.

Change of mood in Germany in 1998, but not in 2017

In the campaign for the Bundestag election of 1998 the SPD to reinforce a since the beginning of the year emerging climate of Opinion and to create a feeling in Parts of the population that it was time for a change. Chancellor Helmut Kohl has been presented as a discontinued model, his Challenger Gerhard Schröder, as a bearer of hope. The CDU was forced into the Defensive. The Slogans of the SPD were “We are ready” and “the power of The New”. It is a cabbage-postcard and posters with the image of Kohl’s and the legendary saying “I’m ready” produced by Giovanni Trapattoni, the former soccer coach of FC Bayern Munich. Another poster showed, Helmut Kohl and Theo Waigel, and in addition, the film’s title, “… for they know not what they do” with addition “only until 27. September” (the day of the election), “SPD. We are ready”. The Situation is quite different in the forthcoming Federal election in 2017. The Schulz-Hype is flattened. A change of mood is not recognize (yet).

By Silvano Moeckli


Silvano Moeckli teaches political science at the University of St. Gallen. In mid-September, his new book is published, So the election campaign works.

Der Kontext einer Wahl kann entscheidend sein



Silvano Moeckli

So choice works fight

1. Edition in 2017

210 Pages, Paperback

ISBN 978-3-8252-4868-0

€ (D) 19,99

Appears on the 11.09.2017