What issues did the political leaders focus on at the beginning of the official election period, what is the prevailing emotional climate and to what extent can polarisation and populism be detected in their discourse?
Political analysis often distinguishes between political supply and political demand, which are concepts borrowed from economics and can effectively describe the dimensions of political competition.
When we talk about political demand, we refer to the analysis of public opinion characteristics.
This involves examining the general attitudes, perceptions, and opinions of the public and how they shape the political competition’s context. Specific questions of interest include how the public evaluates political figures or how they perceive the credibility of political parties. We may also explore what the most important societal issues are and how effective the solutions proposed by those in positions of power are. Public opinion surveys, commonly known as “opinion polls,” are a crucial tool for understanding the different dimensions of political demand.
On the other hand, political supply focuses on the characteristics of political actors’ actions, such as parties and candidates. Our interest is focused primarily on their agenda, the proposals they advocate for, and the people who will be responsible for implementing them. Specific questions may revolve around proposed policies on issues of broader interest, such as foreign policy or the economy, as well as more targeted topics such as the environment, the Highway Code, or indoor smoking.
There are various tools available for capturing political demand data. Opinion polls are among the most well-known and widely used tools for this purpose. In fact, we are so accustomed to them that it has become commonplace for political actors to try to discredit them, especially when the findings are not in their favor.
But what are the tools for analyzing political supply? Capturing the different dimensions of political supply can also be done with different tools, one of which is the content analysis of political leaders’ political discourse.
How useful is the analysis of the political discourse of political leaders? Political discourse analysis is highly useful, as it allows us to understand the dynamics of the political debate, especially when used in combination with opinion polls. This analysis can help us understand, for example, how political parties articulate their programs and how citizens perceive them. It can also shed light on the priorities of prime ministerial contenders and how citizens understand and prioritize them.
The applications of political discourse analysis methods go beyond being just another interesting tool in the election debate. They are highly useful for monitoring the election campaign and understanding the dynamics of political competition.
George Siakas is an Assistant Professor of Electoral Behavior at the Department of Political Science Department of the Democritus University of Thrace and Research Director at the Public Opinion Research Unit at the Research University Institute of the University of Macedonia.