Eesti erakondade ideoloogilised profiilid ning nende arvestamine valimisreklaamis
Ideological profiles of Estonian parties and their reflection in electoral advertisements The purpose of this bachelor thesis is to analyse the ideological profiles of six Estonian political parties belonging to the XI Composition of the Riigikogu and see how they were reflected in electoral advertisements. This study is based on the example of the 2011 Estonian parliamentary election campaign. First, it needed to be clarified how the parties themselves see their profile and how it is described by independent experts. In order to do that, interviews were conducted with independent political experts and the parties’ campaign coordinators. In addition, the author studied the slogans in election ads and visual idiosyncrasies to see how they reflected the ideological views of the party. The ideological views of political parties can be positioned on the basis of certain characteristics on a left-right ideological spectrum, which enables to identify the ideological profile of a party. The main difference between left- and right-wing parties is that the first are in favour of the state playing a greater role in organising people’s lives while the latter prefer to minimize its influence. There are several characteristics to make a distinction between left- and right-wing ideological profiles and some party profiles encompass features from both directions. On the basis of the study, it could be maintained that the parties of the previous (XI) Composition of the Riigikogu are more or less located around the centre of the political continuum. None of them is extremely radical; however, the ideological profiles of a number of parties might also entail characteristics rather far from the centre. The wider purpose of the current empirical study was to understand and describe the political landscape in Estonia, which was also achieved. The ideological characteristics of the political parties were identified along with their relation to the development of the parties’ ideological profiles. Furthermore, it could be concluded from the study that ideological standpoints also occur in campaign advertising, since the slogans present the electorate with the parties’ political postures, which in a broader perspective are associated with their ideological views as a system of certain ideas, rules and values. Nevertheless, whether these ideological profiles as understood by the voters coincide with the parties’ own perception of themselves is an issue in itself. The interviews conducted with independent political experts shed light to the fact that the marketing side of the election campaigns is strongly associated with the way the parties represent their ideological standpoints. In fact, political parties are not always able to act according to the ideological views presented in the campaigns. For example, a people’s party, whose main aim is to obtain as many votes as possible, cannot express very radical and controversial beliefs in public without risking to lose votes, even though these beliefs may be in accordance with the ideology that the party is supposed to represent. The current situation in the society also has an influence on the parties’ ideological profiles. According to campaign coordinators, the initial ideological views form the core in developing the campaign, but this is not the main and only feature. The content of the campaign and election ads is to a great extent influenced by on-going processes in the society and by the target market. These are the three parameters shaping the parties’ ideological profile when creating an election campaign. For example, the election campaign coordinator of The Estonian Reform Party admitted that compared to the time before the economic crisis the right-wing profile of the party concerning social issues had indeed shifted a little to the left before the previous elections. It is difficult to say whether people understand on the basis of political advertising the exact ideological view they support in the elections. While the parties’ political experts believe that election ads give a true account of their core ideology, the current study allows us to conclude that the advertising of some parties is more elaborate on those terms while in the case of others ideological profiles remain vaguer. In addition, each party holds certain unconditional convictions. For example, The Estonian Reform Party, presenting itself as a liberal party, prioritizes fostering free market economy and the neo-liberal belief in self-regulating markets. The unswerving course of the Union of Pro Patria and Respublica is promoting nationalconservative views, where every political standpoint is explained through the aim of maintaining the Estonian nation. The slogans of parties very often entail characteristics from both sides of the political spectrum. However, the current study indicates that in the decision-making process, voters tend to be leaded by the core ideological characteristics as identified by the parties themselves, and the slight ideological shifts conditioned by the current situation tend to be ignored. The main reason for this is that Estonian political culture is in the ideological phase: the keywords of ideologies and values of the society have already been developed; nevertheless, the influence of the Soviet past on Estonian political culture is still evident. It is natural that party profiles cannot yet have reached the critical-rational phase, be clear and unambiguous and take long-term political practices into account. In conclusion, the present bachelor thesis helps to dissect the ideological profiles of the key parties in the political landscape of Estonia and understand the role of those profiles in election advertising. Consequently, the author is of the opinion that initially established goals have been achieved.
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