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Personalization of Campaigning

Frank Brettschneider


Election campaigning is considered to be personalized if it focuses on the top candidates and their personal qualities more than on political issues. The personalization of campaigning is part of the personalization of politics as a whole (→  Political Personality in Media Democracy ). Moreover, the personalization of voting behavior and that of media coverage play an important role ( Brettschneider 2002 ). Yet the personalization of election campaigns receives the bulk of criticism. Some observers see in it a dangerous trend toward depolitization. Politics, according to them, is increasingly meaningless, issues are marginalized, and elections are turned into mere beauty contests, designed by →  spin doctors who are practically “packaging” their candidates for the media ( Franklin 2004 ). The reasons for personalized election campaigning include the increasing importance of the top candidates compared to their parties, decoupling of parties and candidates, and the focus on apolitical candidate characteristics (human interest). The increasing importance of top candidates in many countries is also considered to be a part of the “Americanization” of election campaigns (→  Election Campaign Communication ). Since the American president is essentially elected by the people, the candidates of the Republicans and Democrats are obviously the main protagonists. In parliamentary democracies, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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