The evolution of poll campaigns

06 May 2019 | Columns

The nature of political campaigns is rapidly changing, and in recent years we have been witnessing an evolution.

During 2009, Swapo introduced what it termed as ‘politainment’, as the ruling party invested heavily in local musicians in order for them to champion their election campaigns. The idea behind this was also to woo young voters, without necessarily alienating older ones. The option of including young musicians in election campaigns also helps political parties to tackle the growing concerns around voter apathy, which is prevalent among young voters. Many young and eligible voters are often first to indicate a strong sense of disillusionment with both politicians and the political process. The enthusiasm to vote in elections has been waning in our country and many others, including in South Africa, ahead of its general elections this week. In fact, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in South Africa recently said it was worried that the majority of those not registered to take part in the elections this year were under 30 years old. This is not only a setback for the IEC, but equally a significant issue for political parties, considering that the majority of voters are from the most powerful voting bloc, namely the youth. Clearly, voter apathy has its causes, and if political parties aren’t taking big issues seriously, we will see an increasing number of young people turned off by politics. Young voters are also tired of cadre deployment that leads to corruption and the funding of misplaced priorities. It is thus important that political parties pull up their socks in the coming months. This can only happen through a battle of ideas, including about a need for greater openness and accountability, and through putting the emphasis on so-called bread-and-butter issues. As much as political parties and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) encourage the youth to take an interest in general elections and the voting process, politicians must not fool them by coming up with unrealistic promises and downright lies.