The 15 March elections will soon be upon us, and this time the focus seems to be not only on issues, but also on the way politicians respond to voters’ sentiments. Earlier, Harry Garretsen and Janka Stoker looked at the degree to which party programmes expressed positive sentiments. In a new study, they report on research into the tone used by the lead candidates themselves. After analysing the Carré debate, Garretsen and Stoker conclude that Henk Krol and Mark Rutte were neck and neck in a race for the candidates with the most positive tone, while Emile Roemer came last.
Remarkably, the leading candidate for the PvdA, Lodewijk Asscher, used the highest percentage of positive words in the debate, but also many words with negative connotations. This might be a reflection of the mixed messages that have been giving the PvdA grief, partly caused by the party's disappointing scores in the polls: Asscher wants to sing the praises of the sitting government's policies and achievements, but also needs to distance himself from them because the polls indicate that voters are dissatisfied with the PvdA's performance in government.
You can read Garretsen and Stoker's full analysis on Me Judice (in Dutch): ‘De gevoelstemperatuur van de lijsttrekkers gemeten’ [Taking the party leaders’ temperatures].
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