POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Election Campaign

During an election campaign, candidates or parties compete for votes in the election. 

Election campaigns involve hanging up election posters, holding events, and having candidates take part in talk shows and debates. Additionally, information stands are set up by the parties whose candidates are competing, which give out stickers, brochures and badges.

A campaign encourages sympathisers of a candidate or party as well as undecided voters to take part in the election and vote for certain candidates.

There is a distinction between direct and indirect campaigning. 

Examples of direct campaigning:

  • Open talks
  • Information stands in public places 
  • Personal communication between citizens and candidates 

Forms of indirect campaigning:

  • Use of mass media
  • Taking part in TV debates 
  • Radio or newspaper interviews 
  • Leaflets and election posters
  • Use of the internet and social networks 

Trends in campaigning 

2015 highlighted the increasingly online nature of election campaigns. Social media was used primarily to win over younger voters, but it also helped parties and candidates achieve different targets. Moreover, these channels were used to position parties and candidates in the area of so called "infotainment", that is, presenting the campaign information in an entertaining way.

Campaigns are becoming increasingly professional. Big advertising companies are used to develop and implement campaign strategies. An important feature is also greater personalisation of the campaign. Previously it was parties who were at the centre of the campaign, but today the main actors are the top candidates themselves.

See also: Elections, General Elections

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