If you’ve had enough of all the political posters blighting our city’s streets and tram stops, don’t worry – you aren’t the only one.
As is routine pre-election, political billboards and banners have been erected all over the city, with the big parties intent on using a large chunk of their budget to plaster the town with their propaganda. Except many of their posters can’t actually be considered as propaganda at all, seeing as they carry no messages whatsoever.
The vast majority of posters merely mention the candidate’s name, list number and political group, with only a few offering a paltry soundbite to give us an idea of what they stand for.
It begs the question, if a candidate can’t even provide so much as a glimpse of what their priorities are, why should anyone vote for them? Admittedly, a few candidates have put a few short messages on their posters. However those that do tend to provide a meaningless soundbite that offers zero clues about their priorities.
To give some examples, slogans currently used by various candidates include phrases like “for a safe future”, “for my children and your children”, “change now”, “new energy” and “for a better future”. As you can see, none of these slogans tell voters anything specific about the candidate’s views.
Research has proven that attractive people are more likely to be associated with positively, and this may have been influential in the decision of so many parties to produce posters with pristine photos of their candidates. All it succeeds in doing however, is making it more difficult to find what the candidates plan to do should they ever get in office.
So why do we have all these ‘profile pic’ posters with next-to-no info on them? Part of the reason is the way the list system operates in some Polish elections. Rather than simply voting for a party, the electorate have the opportunity to choose a specific candidate from their preferred party’s list.
As a consequence, candidates from the same party end up competing against one another instead of working as a team. This is why you often see two or even three posters from the same political group or coalition on the same lamppost, wall or tram-stop barrier. The system also requires a complicated ‘ballot paper’ that contains several pages with all the party lists.
Despite all this, many voters don’t know who to choose and simply just select the 1st name on the list anyway.
Several Wrocławians have already defaced a number of posters promoting candidates from just about every party, even though they risk being prosecuted for doing so. That alone indicates that there is an appetite for removing them. In addition, the President of Wrocław’s Housing Forum has also called for the posters to be banned.
Some candidates have also been fiercely criticized for erecting posters in places where they have no permission to do so. In one extreme case, a PiS candidate’s campaign team hung a political poster on a Wrocław cemetery gate.
After every election it also takes a long time to remove the posters, which inevitably sparks further complaints.
Given all this animosity towards the posters from across the political spectrum, you’d expect them to go sooner or later. That said, In order for this madness to end, the system would need to be changed. Unfortunately this looks rather unlikely given the major parties would struggle to agree on a new format.