Comparative Analysis of the Political Management Dimensions of Local Election Campaigns

By Kos, Domen | Journal of Comparative Politics, January 2016 | Go to article overview

Comparative Analysis of the Political Management Dimensions of Local Election Campaigns


Kos, Domen, Journal of Comparative Politics


1 INTRODUCTION: POLITICAL MANAGEMENT OF ELECTION CAMPAIGNS

The topic of the article represents one of the basic questions in democratic political systems, because the "elections are among the most interesting and importatant political events in the life of a country. Even non-democratical governments reinforce the value of elections by routinely using them to justify a regime's existence" (Medvic 2014, 1). Within the context of rational-legal authority Weber (1962) recognizes the meaning of legitimization of power through clear rules, laws, and regulations. These are defined by the law (Kranjc 2010) and more thoroughly in the context of election campaigns with the principles of the election system (Grad 2004). Elections are an essential part of the fight for political power, while the election campaigns supposedly give meaning to these fights (Herrnson and Campbell 2009). These can be further examined through Schumpeter's (1942) concept of fighting for political power with an election race (election campaign) and with the election results. Elections can therefore be understood as legitimization of receiving and asserting political power. Election campaigns are important because they offer the voters' active participation, an information-based selection of representatives, and a satisfaction of interests. Together with elections, campaigns also provide legitimization of the elected candidate and public policies (Trent et al. 2011).

Election campaigns are a frequently discussed topic within social sciences, specifically in the field of political science and communication studies. Nevertheless there are different definitions of an election campaign that vary due to its complexity. Terminological definition is offered by Safire (1993) in his political dictionary. He explains that the term is taken from military jargon and was later used in a political context in England as the idea that politics is a form of combat. Schumpeter (1942) defines election campaign as an activity connected to a power struggle. Election campaign is also defined as a political activity of opposing political actors, taking place during elections with the goal of achieving a higher number of votes through systematic and organizationbased process of informing, convincing, and mobilising the voters (Norris 2002; Schmitt-Beck and Farrell 2002). Agranoff(1976,3) defines election campaigns as a process of (political) management that "coordinates effort to achieve objectives, such as electing a candidate to office, connect various operations that organize and use environmental, human, social and material resources". Mutually complementing definitions offer the best attempt to define election campaigns.

Political management mainly applies to the field of applied political science. The interest in studying political management is increasing due to the process of professionalization of politics, while its role in academic institutions around the world is becoming very important (Johnson 2009a). In the field of political management authors most frequently place management of election campaigns, political counselling, political marketing, researching the competition, lobbying and advocacy, funding, public opinion polling, and other forms of applied knowledge in the political processes (Herrnson 2005; Johnson 2009a; Burton and Shea 2010). The historical beginnings of political management could more broadly be defined through the beginnings of the Western political thought and parallel to Almond's (1996) rising curve of the Western political thought. Furthermore, we must also mention the important contribution of Machiavelli's political thought; in his work Il Principe he produced one of the first political manuals for rulers (Machiavelli 1966; Alatri 1980). Harris, Lock, and Rees (2000) place the aforementioned manual in analogy with modern political management. In a more narrow sense, the American political scientist Johnson (2009b) states that political management has primarily evolved in the 1930s in the field of political counselling in local election campaigns in the United States of America (with the establishment of the first company of the kind, called "Campaigns, Inc. …

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