Political Parties and Party Systems

By Alan Ware | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
CAMPAIGNING FOR ELECTION

SECTION A

The order in which the chapters appear in Part III might suggest to the reader that, first, candidates are selected, then there is an election campaign, and finally a government is formed. As we shall see in the next chapter, the connection between the holding of an election and the formation of a government is rather more complex than this. Furthermore, the link between the selection of candidates and the running of an election campaign is not nearly so straightforward as it might appear. Certainly, forty or more years ago election campaigning nearly always came after the selection of candidates. But in many countries today election campaigning, in one form or another, begins long before an election has been called, and in some cases long before the process of selecting candidates has been undertaken. No longer are election campaigns confined to a period of, perhaps, six weeks or two months immediately prior to an election. The extension of the campaign period in the United States has been so great that it has led some commentators to speak of a 'continuous campaign'; once an election is over would-be candidates are starting to mobilize for the next one.

The main factor responsible for this change has been the invention of electronic media, especially television. Television enables politicians to communicate with their electorates in a variety of ways. At first, in the 1950s, it was used as a device within the old campaign 'calendar'; but, fairly quickly, politicians began to realize the importance of building up credibility with electorates before the formal start to an election campaign. It became evident to them that opinions about the competence of a government or administration were formed over a long time, and the party that did not make strenuous efforts to appeal to voters until

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