Cristopher Cepernich

Inside «war rooms». Party campaigning in the 2013 general election as seen by the insiders

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: General Election 2013; Political Parties; Campaigning; Strategy; Media.

This article analyses campaigning and communication strategies of political parties in the Italian election of February 2013. The main aim is to investigate the features of the current phase of the campaigns in Italy and check the level of innovation in Italian electoral communication. The research was conducted through a plan of semi-structured interviews with key informants (campaign managers, consultants and web strategists). Their reports have made it possible to investigate strategies from the inside. Findings show that an unfavorable general context - carachterized by a deep economic crisis, the legacy left by a "government of technocrats" and the very short time of the election campaign - have led traditional parties to choose "smart solutions" which are reasonably safe, rather than risky experiments. These have been, presumably, the strengths of Beppe Grillo's Movimento 5 Stelle. Personalisation remains the hard basis of party communication strategies. Leaders TV presenteeism remains the most important strategy of communication. The leader represents the brand of the party, but also the perfect excuse for campaigns with low innovative capacity. Apart from television, the web is the second pillar on which party strategies hold together. They invested significant resources in the web and had high expectations for it. Clearly this field opens up new challenges for electoral communication. This work focuses on the two main dimensions: firstly, media convergence in projecting campaigns and transmediality in the construction of communication flows; secondly, organization of structures for digital activism on social networks. In fact they have emerged as primary generative spaces of political narratives in which debates may be orientated, new narratives may be producted, "negative campaigning" can be countered and potential voters may be engaged.

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