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Communicated himself to death

Both Right and SV make a poor choice. Part of the reason is that both parties failed in their communication to the voters.


After an election, there are always many explanations for why it went as it went. Election researchers usually have a good overview of which votes went where, and which matters were important to the voters. What few people are able to measure, however, is the purely communicative elements of politics. Neither am I. Therefore, I intend to advance some statements and discuss them freely and speculatively.

Statement 1: – SV fell victim to its power ambition

The notion that the SV should seek real political power and not just be in opposition gradually matured throughout the 1990s. Being in politics without wanting stools is an eccentric position. Most people want power. However, SV has been quite eccentric. So when the interest in power goes from being a theoretical exercise to a real possibility, something happens.

SV has over 40 years in Norwegian politics, more than anything else, built up a profile as an opposition party. It is from the SV voter expect opposition, it is from the SV voters expect rejection of unified solutions and compromises, and the chanting of moral perennial positions.

When advertising-financed television was introduced in Norway, SV was naturally opposed. It rhymes with the party's basic attitudes. However, SV also maintained this opposition long after the advertisement was in place on the television channel and regularly made a point that the party had been against this change. "Some must also fight for the lost cases," said SV's Rolf Berg at the time.

This kind of sincere and deeply oppositional behavior is part of the basic structure of SV. The ability to say no and reject any changes that may appear to be part of a more market-driven society is the party's DNA. To the extent that political parties are brands, they must also live by the brand bible, that is, to adhere to their product (politics), not to change it or create unpredictability, not to let customers (voters) notions of the product. It is precisely this rule that SV has broken this year. They have eroded power and ergo had to renounce their role as eternal oppositional.

Kristin Halvorsen has received many awards and awards in recent years for her wonderful communication skills. She smiles when she talks, she is punchy, generous, sympathetic. She is pretty much everything the dream politicians can and should be. However, Kristin Halvorsen is not SV's real political capital, it is more that Kristin Halvorsen is SV's primary media. SV's politics and Kristin Halvorsen have grown together for almost a decade to be a medial size. It is a mutual relationship between the two and success requires that this balance be maintained. The moment Kristin Halvorsen no longer seems like a good broadcaster for the permanent opposition, many voters will also feel that the appeal is weakened. Kristin Halvorsen cannot sell anything other than SV's traditional politics without compromising party support. That is, that's the lesson brand theory will give us: faithfulness to one's own values ​​is what works.

Claim 2: – Right as self-harm

The poor's poor choice can, in my opinion, be explained by a number of factors. That the party has little support for its policy – for continued privatization, tax breaks, – and that Hagen outmaneuvered the government are factors that have a negative effect. However, it may be that the party communicates negativity, and that this does something with its ability to emerge as an attractive choice.

It started already in the early summer when everyone in the government started talking about the "socialists" when the red-green alternative was to be described. I have no idea who came up with this communication measure, but I can well imagine that some PR agency has been brought in to find effective rhetoric. It is not difficult to be led to believe that the diligent use of "socialism" would work well. Perhaps they thought that by using this charged term, it would eventually attach associations of the worst kind to the retina of the Norwegian population. Maybe they were hoping that the red-greens would be associated with the Soviet Union and other nightmares. However, there is little in the background of the Norwegian population that indicates that many will connect “socialism” and “the red-greens” to a single large negative linguistic construction. The vast majority of the inhabitants of this country can see that there is a coincidence between the emergence of social democracy and their own welfare. Under the so-called "socialists", enormous private and public purchasing power has been created, and private property rights have been markedly strengthened and more and more people have experienced its blessings. Scaring well-born people with a picture of Einar Gerhardsen is perhaps one of the least intelligent things you can do.

The Conservatives were the party that used "socialism" most actively as insults and threats, and the cake was taken by party leader Erna Solberg when she used the term "the red danger". This gives, to put it mildly, unfortunate associations. The Nazis used "the red danger" when describing the Soviet Union. To end up in the same linguistic drawer as Vidkun Quisling is, after all, both grotesque and less wise.

The ads that the Conservatives used where they said "someone will give you a higher interest rate and more tax" and put it all on a red background, were probably bad considering influencers. My contention is that this continuous use of threats about what others are going to bring about misery has some significant weaknesses. It is possible that some voters will be intimidated by this type of rhetoric and therefore choose the Conservatives, but there is an imminent danger that very many will perceive the Conservatives as a party that does not represent "the good". After such a massive use of negative advertising, the Conservatives want to create an image of themselves as a small, generous party. The purely mean thing of just downplaying others and not even carrying positive thoughts to the square is obvious to many, and it is a crossroads that a party can resort to such unethical communication. Maybe this is due to the choice of communication desperation, but maybe it's because something in the Conservative Party's soul – the decent value-conservative element – has been shoveled out?

Claim 3: AP and FrP win because they are faithful

Both AP and FrP have party leaders who master rhetoric better than most. However, Carl I. Hagen and Jens Stoltenberg are not rhetorically good in themselves, they too must have the right context to work in, and they have had this for years. They lead parties that in this election campaign are close to their own values ​​and therefore the closeness between what the voters expect of the party and what the front figure communicates is so visible. Kristin Halvorsen's real challenge is to take SV's basic positions into government and make politics of them, and make this policy more visible. Erna Solberg's challenge is of a different and easier format: it is to create a better and softer frame around the Right. This is basically nothing more than giving the Right a human face.

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