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Instytut Nauk Politycznych Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Publication date: 2020-01-28
Studia Politologiczne 2002;6
Direct personal discrediting is the most powerful tool in presidential campaigns, as they are so personalised. During the 2000 campaign, personal attacks were frequent and unconcealed. Having closely analysed all the texts regarding the candidates, which appeared in the daily “Rzeczpospolita” and “Gazeta Wyborcza” in the period leading to the elections, the author describes some of the various means that were used to diminish the good image of political opponents. Among those means, there are: the demonstrative means (the affront, labelling, the contemptuous epithet, invective and name calling, accusation and condemnation), the cautious, playing-it-safe – “smuggled” means (the allusive remark, euphemism, irony and sarcasm), and the satirical means (such as parody). Some candidates were quite frank about their main aim being simply to prevent the elections from finalising in the first round, to disqualify their rivals and to fill in the place of the chief rival of the incumbent president. For others (e.g. Andrzej Lepper) discrediting was to help them shoot into politics or strengthen their position in the political arena. There are numerous ways the victim can react to the attack and various means of defence. Considering the aim of discrediting one’s opponent, it is most interesting to note the response of the electorate to such practices. And the electorate, fortunately, often manifests a higher level of political culture than the candidates themselves and their campaign teams.
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