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Media and Politics, Vol. 4 - 1997, No. 3

Election Rhetoric of Political Parties: An Appraisal and a Proposal

, pages: 81-95

Political rhetoric may be regarded as unchanging, following ancient and universal rules of persuasion. However, scholars sometimes argue that political language has changed substantially over the last decades, due to its adaptation to media logic or to new modes of electoral competition. In this article I propose a model for empirical research of party propaganda in different election campaign channels. Rather than to offer a comprehensive view of political rhetoric, this model is designed to provide more knowledge of what media changes may have meant for the language of political parties. Does election rhetoric vary systematically? If so, does rhetoric change over time, adopting qualities associated with media logic? Or, do we find a non-changing pattern which can better be explained by party competition factors? Three rhetorical dimensions are identified in the model: message concreteness, direction, and identity construction. These correspond to hypothesised media effects, as well as being relevant to parties making strategic campaign choices.

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