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lundi, septembre 19, 2005

Noughties Democracy


When Chirac faced the referendum for the approval of the constitution of Europe he was quite sure that it would be a clear Oui by the French population. Until voting day was just round the corner, the positive result in the referendum was the smallest of Monsieur Chirac soucis. The French would show Europe the way.
But they didn't.

When Mr. Bush was up for his second scrutiny and a confirmation of a second term at the White House many pundits expected a resounding return of the Democrats. Again, until voting day was just round the corner, the shooing of Dubya from the White House was meant to be as easy as cooking a French Fry. The Americans would go out there and kick the warmonger out of office. But they didn't

Yesterday, the corridors of power in Berlin were meant to get a great big shake up. Angie Merkel was meant to become the first female Chancellor of the Bundesrepublik. Opinion polls, those makers or breakers of governments of the nineties, had given her a twenty point lead over Shrouded Schroeder. The Germans were meant to kick the social-democrats into kingdom come and reinstate the Christian-Democrat crowd in the steering position. But they didn't.

Three colossal electoral machines. Three wrong calls. Time for a strike out? Are we, as Schroeder put it last night, rejecting the manipulative media? Had the media which had been presenting us with a supposed victor throughout the late seventies, the eighties and the nineties finally been spurned by the voter? Gerhard seems to believe that he had never lost this election. That he had not Houdinied himself out of a disaster. He believes that the media had begun to ring his death bell long before he had even caught a cold.

Not too far a call. Noughties man can no longer identify with a political party. To speak of allegiance is definitely pass�. Noughties man is more down to earth and, though not always on the mark, knows exactly what he or she wants. Noughties man has shed the media as the ultimate guiding light for who to vote for. Has he really set aside the curtains of false propaganda? Has noughties man begun to dig the grave of the media that for so long has assumed him to be Na�ve Man ready to be manipulated by the marketing pundits of this world?

I am not sure and we will need to see this in more detail. In the meantime many questions arise:

1) Media and its use. If trust and faith in the media really withers out then all the battles for control (vide Berlusconi in Italy, vide Super 1 and Net in Malta, vide the giant corps in USA) will count for nought. A new, more pragmatic and realistic media must emerge that will survive this current mistrust.

2) The Emergence of New Media. Technological innovations, in particular the World Wide Web will continue their uncontrolled adaptation to this phenomenon. The blog, the interactive newspaper, the wiki and other such tools will adapt to the functional, practical and no-nonsense needs of the Noughties man (in political terms & this does not mean that other uses of the WWW will stop).

3) Political Parties & their Messages. The new political party will have to take note of this change. In a way the manipulation of Noughties man will not seem possible. The easy availability of information does not allow political parties to channel their own one-sided truths down the throat of the gullible voter. Noughties politics implies diversification, adaptability and interactivity. The distance between party and voter must be bridged and fast.

There is much more where this came from. It may be just a gut reaction. Comments are welcome.
Came across this article called Erroneous Forecasts (Reuters) after finishing this post.

3 commentaires:

Fausto Majistral a dit…

First, I think you're confusing pollsters with the media.

Second, some of your points are factually incorrect:

-- There were predictions which went wrong in the 1990s: the 1992 general election in Britain and the Danish referendum on Maastricht that same year. But this is not very relevant to the argument.

-- In the US, most of the pollsters were correct. Some of them gave Florida to Kerry but some also considered it too close to call.

-- In France, the pollsters were right. Chirac just didn't bother to notice. "Yes" was catching up with "no" in the last week but it wasn't good enough.

-- In Germany, the media gave a hard time to Merkel not Schroeder.

-- Indeed, the case of this election must be unique in that probably the last time pollsters ere off the mark this much was 1992.

More on the German election tonight at Termidor

(That's a free ad :p)

Jacques René Zammit a dit…

If you mean confusing as in thinking one when meaning the other then the answer is no.

If you mean confusing in the latin sense of the term confusio then yes. I am throwing pollsters and media in the same basket. The combination of polls and media is what can be used to manipulate... they both need each other.

Re Chirac and referendum, as I said it was only when the referendum was close that we heard about the Non strength... before that it was a given Yes.

Re hard time to merkel and not to Schroeder... say that to Schroeder!

looking forward for your analysis. Do I take it that you believe that politics today, in the nineties and in the eighties has not changed?

James Vella Bardon a dit…

Well I think it would be positive if the media could affect electoral decisions less. I think that the UK has already dragged its feet enough as it is on Europe because Mr. Blair is always taken by bowel seizure whenever the Sun criticise him when he makes an overt pro-European move. Maggie Thatcher never gave a rat�s ass about the press but that never affected her position in the polls did it? Of coruse balance is always necessary I mean you don�t want to be as cut off from the minimum standard of personality requried by the media as the current batch of conservatives are either! However I daresay that with regards to the German election the media has come into play despite what Schroeder said because Merkel did not cut a very convincing public figure in that she was not always very direct in what she said and backtracked a number of times at the beginning of the electoral campaign and this scared people who thought that she was hiding painful electoral reforms until she got voted into power. She might have done better to inject a sense of urgency into the public rather than attempt to soften her message. As a consequence of the latter approach, the electoral result has been a disaster as now pressing reforms in Germany will be frustrated and Italy and France will dilly-dally too. Europe is now also probably lumped with a third-way politican such as Schroeder who specialises in �spin�. Therefore don�t expect the economic growth in Europe of 1 per cent to increase much within the next five years. Having said that - am still open to any positive political surprises! :)