Last week's local elections were "old-fashioned" according to De Volkskrant (in Dutch) because no campaign made significant use of new media. But even by old media standards, the marketing was very primal. The political parties were more concerned with defining themselves than engaging with issues or one another, but they were all auditioning for the same role: the down to earth everyman fed up with "those politicians" who speaks in simple, clarifying truths. Everyone was looking for the knockout phrase, the "You're no Jack Kennedy", which meant that the campaign often had the menacingly ironic tone of a Clint Eastwood movie.
The Socialists stated this laconic proof of social physics:
(You. Me. We. SP.)
Voters generally accepted the premise, but rejected the conclusion.
D66, like the UK's Liberal Democrats, have always defined themselves as "different" (i.e. in principled disagreement with whomever happens to be in office) Why waste words?
(Different. Yes. D66)
Labour triggered the collapse of the previous government when it broke with its center-right CDA partner over Afghanistan. Finally released from its tragic self-imposed banishment into power, the PvdA was born again as a characteristically evangelical duality of man/woman, lion/lamb, hard-on-terror/good-with-children Christ figure.
(Strong and social)
The CDA, as leader of the government, had to twist the hardest to kick itself in the ass and could only pound its tiny fists against pet peeves like parking fees:
(The car is not a milkcow. For lower parking tariffs.)
But the most primal campaign came from the right-of-CDA Liberal Party, the VVD. Both the messaging and the execution seemed to be the product of an awkward but earnest Junior Conservative Club contest conducted sometime in the late 1980s.
When I saw this, I thought, Bless. Can't you just see them with their bow ties and dental braces?
They had another street poster campaign that must have been concepted in Microsoft clip art (Hey, flustered businessman buried under government paperwork! Hang In There Baby!) and when I first saw the television ad, I congratulated myself for having the cultural insight to recognize what was clearly a parody of political advertising by one of those typically Dutch satirical cabaret acts. It's in Dutch, but you'll get the point: Gramma won't get to see the kids today because of, once again, those darn high parking fees, which seem to be some kind of conservative kryptonite.
But the most entertaining part of this old-fashioned campaign is actually online. Zwartboek Kraken could have been Harry Potter's reptilian nemesis and classmate or a New Jersey Superfund site/mob graveyard, but it chose instead to manifest as the VVD's manifesto against squatting. My favorite part is the very beginning:
Imagine: you decide to do some traveling via public transportation. Gas is expensive, you're concerned about the environment(!) and sick of traffic...You come back and find that people have been using your car for awhile...the baby seat looks like it was used for an ashtray and worse: some undefinable and fetid filth fills the place where your baby once found a warm, soft place on the backseat.
Now that is Ye Olde Style repressed sexual panic fear mongering the likes of which we haven't seen around here in many a season...many a season.