Comparing Election Campaign Communication

Authored by: Frank Esser , Jesper Strömbäck

Handbook of Comparative Communication Research

Print publication date:  April  2012
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415802710
eBook ISBN: 9780203149102
Adobe ISBN: 9781136514241


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Election campaigns involve communication flows between political actors, media actors, and citizens. They usually come in the form of planned, coordinated communication efforts by candidates, parties, or other political groups that aim to shape public opinion in favorable ways. Election campaigns can be defined as processes by which campaign organizations seek to maximize electoral gains—usually as measured by the proportion of the vote (Farrell, 2002; Schmitt-Beck & Farrell, 2002a). Campaigning is seen as a core feature of the political process in contemporary democracies, but the communication activities they rely on take different forms in different contexts. This chapter aims to demonstrate how the campaign practices and strategies of candidates and parties are connected to their contextual environments, and how cross-national differences can be explained by factors related to the political system, media system, political culture, and media culture. It needs to be pointed out that this chapter focuses solely on election campaign communication initiated by candidates and parties. It will not address the production of election news by journalists (for this, see Chapter 19 by Esser & Strömbäck, in this volume) or campaign communication effects on citizens (for this see Schmitt-Beck’s Chapter 25, in this volume).

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