Politics 29-11-2018

The image of a Candidate

In 2019 there will be elections in Latin America, so that the concrete definitions of who will be candidates in those countries are beginning to be known.

"The most significant characteristic that I have is that I am identical to ninety-nine percent of my people. That characteristic makes me feel their problems, makes me understand their problems, makes me frequent with him in the first five minutes and even makes me a good driver of that town that is a good town, "said former Panamanian President Omar Torrijos when he was in functions, and it comes to the case to understand the image projected by the candidates in general in the electoral periods.

In 2019 there will be presidential elections - and in some cases also legislative ones - in El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina, and in Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico, if we stick exclusively to Latin America, so they are already getting to know each other the concrete definitions of who will be candidates in those countries.

Defined who will be the candidate begins almost immediately a gigantic media exposure that will force the candidate to try to empathize with the public, or at least with a certain population segment, in the shortest time possible, because their political objective depends on it.

Torrijos claimed that it was identical to ninety-nine percent of his people, and that was a great strength, since it is easier to empathize with a couple than with someone who is more distant from us, but at the same time not all citizens it is the same, fundamentally in Latin America, where inequalities are resounding.

These citizen inequalities lead politicians to force their image during the campaign - in a continuous way many times -, repeatedly reaching the point of breaking their identity or damaging their reputation. Former Brazilian president Lula Da Silva, for example, achieved great identification with the workers, was a couple of them, but was further away from the higher social and economic classes, so that legend has it that he did not win an election until he He began to wear a suit.

It is very common in the campaign also to meet with candidates, usually from conservative parties, who clearly empathize with the elites of their countries, but to win they need the vote of the popular sectors, so we sometimes find them visiting poor areas dressed as rich, kissing and embracing voters without repressing the face of repulsion, or participating in comedy television programs. They will also remember someone who has come to perform some street acrobatics or another -that multimillionaire- who pretended to use means of public transport.

These situations are further enhanced by the media and social networks, so "the spectacle, the excessive desire for notoriety, imposture, overacting, narcissism and the easy fall to flattery" can lead the candidate to to become "a ridiculous caricature of himself, in a grotesque, in a simple, vague and unreliable person, and above all a serious lack of respect for the citizen", says the prologue of the book El Candidato , by Julio César Herrero and Amalio Rodríguez Chuliá.

That lack of respect goes hand in hand with the underestimation of that citizen, who will notice in more or less time what things are part of the strategic planning of the campaign team and what else is really the identity of the candidate, that is, what things are certain and what a simple contraption to win votes.

People are not stupid and citizens can appreciate when the message is authentic, clear and sincere, when the candidate manages to empathize from his own place, without gadgets, without makeup and without deception, and also when a campaign is improvised or there is planning strategic would be behind.

By: MarcelLhermitte *

* Marcel Lhermitte is a consultant in political communication and electoral campaigns. Journalist, Bachelor of Communication Sciences and Master in Political Communication and Electoral Campaign management. He has advised dozens of candidates and progressive collectives in Uruguay, Chile and France.

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