The beginning of the pre-election campaign was marked by recognizable faces and proven slogans on party posters throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and the tried and tested method of marketing communication of political parties with the public will continue throughout the month until the election.
But how well did the politicians start this year’s election campaign?
The answer to that question comes through the analysis of slogans of political parties and pre-election posters, which was done by professors from the Faculties of Philosophy in Pale and Tuzla, Vuk Vucetic, and Enes Osmancevic.
While political candidates try to please their potential voters in various ways, including, as they say, with unique slogans, the profession points out that they are traditionally uninventive, uninteresting, and demotivating. This is not absent in this year’s election campaign either.
”Despite some progress in the use of technology, promotional political communication is still characterized by a low intensity of interactivity between candidates on lists and voters. The visual identity of political parties is still stereotypical. Posters, along with slogans, still feature individual or group portraits of party leaders and candidates. Already seen many times…,” Osmancevic considers.
He adds that unlike the previous ones, when promises and demonstrations of party unity and strength dominated, this year’s slogans are less euphoric and promising.
”Among party leaders in the Federation of BiH (FBiH), slogans are a sign of concern for the survival of the state, and in the smaller entity of BiH, a sign of concern for the survival of the Republika Srpska (RS). Slogans in the RS contain more emotional charge than party slogans in the FBiH,” Osmancevic says.
SDA – ”Safe” (Sigurno)
One of the largest parties in BiH entered the election campaign with experience, like the SNSD. With a slogan that instills confidence in voters, familiar visuals on the posters, and a well-designed poster for Bakir Izetbegovic, it is obvious that the SDA has prepared well for this segment of the campaign.
”This kind of campaign is a sign of a kind of personalization of politics in which the politician appears independently of the political infrastructure. It can be a good marketing move, bearing in mind the various scandals that have hit the SDA in the last few years. By a kind of, at least symbolic, distancing from the party, Izetbegovic can gain some more political points. The position of the hand on the billboard seems to suggest that he is already taking the presidential oath, but it can also suggest leadership determination,” professor Vucetic explained.
SDP – ”For the day to dawn” (Da svane dan)
Recognizability is also a characteristic of SDP’s election posters with the dominant party color, except for their candidate for the member of the BiH Presidency, who is supported by several parties, and therefore the background on the poster is somewhat more neutral. The diversity compared to other candidates is the prefix “Dr”, which Becirovic proudly added in front of the name on the poster.
”What else will dawn but a day? Night cannot dawn. This slogan is not motivating. It does not encourage people to think, make a decision, to take action. It even encourages passivity, because the day will certainly dawn, completely independent of us. In addition, a similar slogan “It will dawn” was used by SDS during the election campaign in the previous elections in 2018,” Osmancevic states.
DF and GS – “For a civil state” (Za gradjansku drzavu)
”’For a civil state’ is actually a slogan that fully reflects the basic political idea of the leader of this party, Zeljko Komsic. The fight for a civil BiH has been a very prominent political guiding idea in the last few years, so it is expected that the slogan will look exactly like this. However, political flirting with the SDA on the one hand, or moving away from the political parties of the left on the other, damaged Komsic’s image as a principled politician in the public. In this sense, any political messages and slogans do not seem to be strong enough to correct this,” Vucetic said.
On the other hand, Osmancevic believes that the DF slogan is concrete and direct and that it emphasizes the idea that the party has been advocating for years. He goes on to point out that the slogan leaves no room for calculations at a time when there is a struggle between different ideas and concepts of state organization.
”Drzava” Coalition and Mirsad Hadzikadic – ”Believe” (Vjeruj)
”I would say that the slogan “Believe” is one of the failures of this pre-election campaign. This slogan seems to be saying that only a miracle can provide a quality result for this coalition in the elections and that the voters should believe in it in order for it to come true. Simply put, the political arena is not a place where miracles happen. If we want to joke, we can say that this slogan is more suitable for a religious organization than for a political party fighting for power. It does not help the opposition coalition to base their political program on irrational categories such as faith, hope, dreams, etc. Such messages do not instill enough confidence in real political strength,” Vucetic adds.
”Belief is a religious principle, and it stands against the principle of politics as the “art of lying”. The Coalition probably wanted to establish a correlation between the state and the need to believe in it, but this was not done clearly enough. In addition, belief in the state is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition. You need to act, fight, work for the state, and the election campaign is precisely the opportunity to answer the question – how,” Osmancevic says.
NiP – “Both the state and the people – the state” and “Trust”
”Two different slogans in the election campaign can cause a problem of perception and identification of one party with two slogans at three different levels of government,” believes the university professor from Tuzla.
Vucetic says that “Trust” (Povjerenje), one of the two slogans of NiP, “is a very important category in the political motivation of voters, but also a very expensive word in political life in general.”
Our Party – ”Our state” (Nasa zemlja)
”The possessive pronoun “our” is emphasized, and this symbolizes patriotic dedication to the country. Through this and through the pre-election slogan, Our Party shows dedication to its fundamental principles in political activity,” says Osmancevic.
Vucetic states that the slogan of Our Party is high-quality, and simple with a positive undertone.
SBB – ”Strong, successful, smart BiH” (Jaka, uspjesna, pametna BiH)
”The country, that is, the state, as an inanimate noun, cannot have an epithet, which is attached to it in this slogan – “smart”. Smart can be the people who live in it. For the creator of this slogan, this probably goes without saying. But it is not the most happily formulated…,” Osmancevic points out.
”This is one of the classic pre-election slogans that are repeated year after year and that does not offer any original ideas and messages. This so-called “catch-all” slogan is such that in an ideological sense almost all political parties can identify with it. In this context, it can be said that this is one of the lower quality slogans that appeared in a sea of similar ones,” Vucetic assessed.
SDS – “You will live better” (Zivjeces bolje)
As Osmancevic says, the slogan probably has the intention of awakening optimism and hope that it is possible to “live better”.
”This slogan imperatively announces that. However, it does not answer the questions of when and how, and especially not the question of what should be done in order to live better. The creator of the slogan may be latently suggesting that for a better life it is enough to vote for the recommended party. But is this really clear only to party members and agitators, or is it clear to all voters,” asks Osmancevic.
PDP – ”RS must defend itself” (Republika Srpska mora da se brani)
”RS must defend itself is a defensive slogan and as such does not befit one of the largest opposition political parties. The opposition is there to attack, not to defend. The opposition would first need to win something in order to be able to defend, so in this context, a kind of “struggle for defense” is a political oxymoron, which is quite confusing. In other words, this type of slogan is more appropriate for a political party that is in power and that has some kind of legitimacy to defend the government and the territory from internal and external enemies,” Vucetic says.
For this slogan, Osmancevic says that it most certainly aims to call for alarm and mobilize the membership for the defense of RS. But, as he emphasizes, it is not clear from whom it must be defended, who is attacking it, how to defend it, and who will defend it.
SNSD – “Because we love Srpska” (Jer volimo Srpsku)
SNSD, just like many other parties, “shoot” at proven slogans and visuals, and on their posters, in addition to the tricolor, they also have a dove, which alludes Vucetic to the last campaign of Aleksandar Vucic.
”This year it is the slogan “Because we love Srpska” with a stylized dove that symbolizes peace. One gets the impression that this party relies on the campaign run by the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, who also had peace and stability as one of his central ideas. All in all, the messages are not overly innovative or original, but they are again very clear and simple. It could be said that similar to the SDA, the SNSD does not die from the beauty of political slogans, but sticks to proven methods,” Vucetic emphasizes.
HDZ – “With unity to victory” (Zajednistvom do pobjede)
Osmancevic also analyzed the HDZ slogan “With unity to victory”, which he states is one of a series of political slogans that the leaders of this party have been using every day for years.
He believes that there is a high probability that this slogan will be drowned in a sea of political phrases, but Vucetic still believes that it is a referendum political message that could even generate more voters for them, Klix.ba writes.