The first inklings of the political leaders’ rhetorical strategy during the new campaign period: what they are keeping from the previous election period and what is changing.
See the analyses of all the speeches of the leaders of the parliamentary parties before the elections of 21 May 2023.
On May 29th, the Greek president issued a decree dissolving the parliament in response to the recent elections held on May 21st, signifying the start of a new election period. With the conclusion of the first week of this period, we now have the opportunity to analyse the early signs of strategic discourses presented by political leaders. It is worth noting that our analysis focuses solely on parliamentary parties, and therefore, Yanis Varoufakis will not be included, as MeRA25 did not secure a seat in the previous parliament.
This analysis holds particular significance as it enables us to identify potential differences in the political discourse of leaders between the two election periods, influenced by the outcome of the intervening elections.
Mitsotakis’ speeches are still on the positive end of spectrum; too limited instances of polarization in Tsipras’ and Androulakis’ discourse
Starting with a sentiment analysis of the speeches, we observe that Kyriakos Mitsotakis seems to be following a similar pattern to the previous election period. Throughout the first week, all three of his speeches remained on the positive end of the spectrum. The speeches of Alexis Tsipras, Nikos Androulakis, and Dimitris Koutsoumbas fell within the neutral spectrum. Conversely, Kyriakos Velopoulos’ speech is the only one found in the negative spectrum, consistent with the previous period. Therefore, in terms of the emotional climate generated by the speeches, the first week of the new election period does not deviate from the overall trend observed during the previous election period.
Moving on, we will be exploring the dimensions of polarisation and populism. Looking back at the previous election period, there were no significant excesses observed in either dimension as a whole. Therefore, we anticipate the new election period to commence in a similar manner. Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ speeches remained devoid of any notable occurrences of polarisation or populism. In the case of Alexis Tsipras, there were occasional instances where patterns of polarising discourse could be detected, but no instances of populist discourse were observed at all. This indicates a further decline in the utilisation of populist discourse patterns compared to both previous periods and the immediately preceding election period. While Nikos Androulakis’ speeches included some instances of polarisation, they too remained limited. On the other hand, Dimitris Koutsoumbas’ discourse appeared to be more polarising, whereas Kyriakos Velopoulos’ speeches did not contain any noteworthy instances of polarisation and populism.
The working methodology for analyzing campaign speeches in the project -from data collection to data analysis.
Differentiating competition, division and polarisation in political discourse.
Populism is not equivalent to politicians’ falsehoods, promises, or deceitfulness. It is not synonymous with demagoguery, propaganda, or manipulation.
Alexis Tsipras predominantly adopted a programmatic approach in Chalkida
It is worth highlighting that the main topic across the speeches of all political leaders continued to revolve around the elections themselves and their significance. Naturally, the discourse surrounding the elections now encompasses an evaluation of the outcome of the previous elections.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ speeches predominantly center around presenting the programmatic agenda of the New Democracy party. Nonetheless, the topics covered by the president of New Democracy exhibited a greater degree of diversity in the early days of the new election period. In his three speeches during this period, the following thematic pairs emerged as prominent: foreign relations and the economy, employment and national security, and the economy and agricultural policy.
In the initial two speeches by Alexis Tsipras, we observe two distinct approaches. In the first speech, he followed the familiar pattern of dividing his speech between agenda-setting and criticism, which characterised his speeches during the previous election period. However, in the second speech, he predominantly adopted a programmatic approach, minimising criticism directed at his opponents. In Nikaia, a region known for its working-class population, Tsipras emphasised employment and the economy as the primary topics of his speech. His programmatic agenda included employment, accountability, and health, while he directed criticism towards the economic programme of New Democracy. In Chalkida, the economy took the absolute center stage in his speech. He directed all of his criticism towards the economic sphere, while his programmatic agenda encompassed employment, the economy, and health.
The content of Androulakis’ speeches is diverse and influenced by the specific locations where they are delivered
Nikos Androulakis’ speeches seem to exhibit a consistent emphasis on the programmatic dimension. The content of his speeches is diverse and influenced by the specific locations where they are delivered. For example, in Chios, immigration emerged as one of the central topics, while in Sitia, agricultural policy took the spotlight, and in Rhodes, national security was the primary focus. However, the predominant subject of criticism throughout his speeches remains the economy, accompanied by additional topics such as debt (mainly private debt), corruption, and healthcare.
Dimitris Koutsoumbas began the new election period by addressing the party’s central committee. His speech primarily aimed to underscore the party’s positions, with the central topic being the economy. Criticism centered around issues related to employment and democracy.
Kyriakos Velopoulos allocated a significant portion of his speech to criticising his opponents, particularly focusing on the economy. National security took precedence in presenting the party’s agenda, while secondary topics included tourism and the media.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis primarily referred to himself
The analysis of the references made in the speeches of political leaders provides us with valuable insights into the focus and themes of each speech. Kyriakos Mitsotakis has notably reduced his mentions of other politicians or rival political parties in his speeches. In fact, he primarily referred to himself and the New Democracy party in his initial speeches.
In contrast, Alexis Tsipras consistently refers exclusively to Kyriakos Mitsotakis, without mentioning any other political leaders. He particularly emphasises the issue of healthcare and directs specific references to the youth. Interestingly, Nikos Androulakis stands out as the politician who frequently refers to Kyriakos Mitsotakis in his speeches. His mentions of Kyriakos Mitsotakis are more than twice as numerous as his mentions of Alexis Tsipras, and he references New Democracy three times as often as he does SYRIZA. Additionally, Nikos Androulakis consistently includes references to the founder of PASOK, Andreas Papandreou, in his speeches. While his address is directed at the Greek people as a whole, he specifically targets the middle class. Lastly, Dimitris Koutsoumbas focuses his speeches on the workers and notably makes references to the European Union and NATO.
Translation: Anatoli Stavroulopoulou