The Globalization of Political Marketing



Studying globalization from a business’s point of view reveals opportunities and threats that must be understood and faced, in order to expand and succeed in new markets, or just to stay in business, given the new context. Considering the parallel between commercial marketing and social or political marketing, we can assess that there are the same kind of advantages and disadvantages for political entities, as there are for businesses. Although parties compete on a local market (the potential buyers for the political product are limited to the number of potential voters) and do not have access to foreign segments of population, as most important enterprises do, thanks to globalization, they have to respond to challenges brought to the society by the economic and cultural aspects of this phenomena. Consequently, the marketing strategy of a political party must be shaped considering the new context, the new themes and social demands, learning from the success stories of business enterprises and their approach, and applying it to an electorate that is suffering major changes.

I have decided to address the changes that took place in the past two decades, on the European political market, as a response to globalization and societal advances, in relation to commercial marketing’s evolution and the business’s approach, and to the problems generated or surfaced by globalization. Therefore, this article is an overview of some of the changes that globalization brought to the political arena, from successful frameworks, that are ready to be imported and implemented, to new parties and different political structures, or to the rise of extremism, severe social tensions, hate speech, long-forgotten problems and social division. I try to evaluate whether globalization’s presence has improved  political marketing’s efficiency, has helped the populations to be better represented and the countries better governed, or, on the contrary, it served only as a means of gaining competitive advantages on impactful topics or niche discussions, disregarding the real interests and major subjects, with the goal of obtaining short-term wins.


Table of Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Methodology

3. Results

4. Conclusions


1. Introduction

At the end of the last century, the influence of globalization and the level of knowledge about this process grew, bringing more importance to its role in shaping the world. Businesses were expanding across borders, capital was moved internationally easily and, more than ever before, economic treaties and alliances were being formed. New markets were opening to many products and the cultural exchanges were thriving.

Thus, the political scenery was also adapting, and was pivoting from a clearly segregated approach, with internal and international politics kept separate, to a new framework, in which the boundaries between local and global seem to be fading.

The spread and rise of more and more international organizations, even in regard to social or humanitarian problems, have brought benefits to many social groups or even populations, such as labour workers, or even refugees and migrants.

One problem that Anthony Mcgrew raised is the impact of globalization on the democratic level, because it transfers decision making from the inside of the countries to the international organizations, possibly reducing even more the representativity of the people and their impact on the policies drawn for them [1]. In the past two decades, political marketing has thrived, growing both in presence and importance.

Starting from the dedicated candidate websites, to blogs, and now social media, there are new means of communication that have emerged and that contribute to the development of both marketing and its political niche. Probably being the most intense political period after the Cold War, this century came with a lot of global problems to be dealt, real issues for the international community. Some of these may be related to globalization, such as climate and nature changes, economic wars or terrorism.

The policy makers, be them at national or international level, must adapt and take measures fit for these situations. Just like businessmen must evolve and constantly find an answer to the market’s evolution, politicians have to understand the changes that the world is going through, their speed and irreversibility, and must come with proper solutions, to have electoral and governing success.


2. Methodology

I have gathered information about the important political events, movements and changes that took place since 2000, to compare to the marketing developments, to see if there is any influence of the globalization of marketing that had transferred to political marketing and the political scenery. Little known at the end of the last century, political marketing’s notoriety is growing, due to technological advancements, to the new communication channels and to the globalization of world knowledge and news. In the last two decades, the political scene has seen multiple changes and influences, shifting from the status quo, in more and more places around the globe.

The pace of the change is higher than ever, new political entities and ideas emerge with every election, and the influences and exchanges between countries, even with different political history, level of development or system, are hard to be stopped.

In order to understand the state of globalization I reviewed literature regarding multiple aspects of this theme: changes in the market’s political structure, the presence and the understanding of globalization and its influence, the link between domestic affairs and international organizations, the collective actions and national identity politics, the place of new media and the Internet in elections, and even the possibility of a unitary strategy through-out Europe’s big political families.

Although a general conclusion regarding the state of the global political market is far from being achieved, this multi-focus approach tries to underline important aspects of the European political market and its players, the changes they have been going through for almost 20 years now and the general influence that is being exercised on them by being part of a faster, globalized and more connected world than ever.


3. Results

Kriesi et  al., analysed  the evolution of the political market in 6 Western European countries, up to the beginning of the 2000s, in light of globalization’s growing influence.

They found out that the bipartisan system was changing, heading towards the re-entry of a third party on the main stage, with examples such as France, where a third party, with radical orientation was challenging the traditional ones. Also, the authors highlighted the importance of the cultural context, in comparison to the social and economic ones, as the key area of emerging topics for growing parties or for the established ones that try to reposition and mobilise the electorate [2].

From an electoral point of view, globalization has effects on the stability of the big parties’ system, on the support for the anti-establishment movements, on the timing of the election rounds and on the governing party’s accountability. Also, Kayser links international market integration and economic globalization to democratization and corruption levels, arguing that globalization can shape domestic affairs [3]. In researching resistance and identity politics in the context of globalization, Yashar believes that collective actions can not be based only on this phenomenon, but also on pre-existing local contexts.

While arguing that globalization has its influence on domestic affairs and policies, and that it brought both opportunities from the international linkage and domestic collective actions against this economic approach, the writer considers that the anti-globalization and identity politics actions are not fully understood, nor are they the same in different countries or regions [4].

After bringing together and analysing most of the globalization’s definitions through-out time, this is what was proposed to be an updated definition, back in 2006: Globalization is a process that encompasses the causes, course, and consequences of transnational and transcultural integration of human and non-human activities.” The two authors also stated that the definition is hard to be a long-lasting one, but the search for new ways of defining it is good, due to the interest shown in globalization and to the evolution of this ever-changing and very important process [5]. In an attempt to find an identity for political marketing done at the European Parliament level, Lund’s research led to the conclusion that not all the parties are giving marketing the same importance and that they tend to only market to their local electors.

Hence, there is no marketing strategy to be recognised or implemented all around Europe by the members of the big political families. The political neglect between the electoral moments leads to voter apathy and lower turnouts, ending with less informed voters, of whom many supporting candidates of the party they voted for in national elections. The homogenous approach to political marketing is far from being possible, due to the national sentiment and local themes, that prevent the success of an integrated European strategy. The only option seen as an effective solution for the lowering turnouts is the mandatory voting [6].

Williamson studied the presence of social media tools, such as Twitter and Facebook, and their influence, in the 2010 British election. What was expected to be the first time when the Internet would have been decisive for the British political confrontation, following Obamas model from the U.S. 2008 elections, it was ultimately merely influenced by social media.

Twitter proved to be the tool for insiders and activists, while the Facebook audience revealed a bigger resemblance to the regular voters. But, far from being the winning tool, Internet was only one of the channels that politicians needed to have exploited, while TV and billboards were still the most influential [7].

Grumke analyses the relation between far-right movements at the international level.

Pointing out that the context created by globalization helps the resurfacing of extremist parties, the author considers that the far-right endorsers are anti-globalists, and their presence is more and more visible in the Western democracies, representing an ideology that has modernised and become international [8]. In a comparison of the far-right between several Western countries, Kopecek states that there are multiple similarities between the far-right parties from different countries, even with more conservative ones adopting populist themes, such as anti-immigration. On the other hand, context in Central Europe is still affected by the communism period, with a delay in the anti-immigration current, due to other local matters of interest. The assumption is that the level of convergence between Western and Central extremist movements will continue to rise, expanding the hate discourse around Europe [9].

Baumgartner studied the hate speech against groups of people on forums revealing that with the use of the English language, international users tackled subjects in regard to Europe, on a far-right American well-established forum. Thus, users from around  the world, connected by their political extremist views, shared their discourse, maybe gaining reassurance and new developments in their far-right ideology. One major effect that could shape the offline world is the alienation from the European institutions, because of their credibility level that is affected by the anti-establishment and hate speech expansion [10].

When addressing the economic globalization and its effect on politics, the author considers that one plausible way to respond to the democratic deficit is to allow international organisations, both governmental or not, to help formulate internal policies and to find solutions [11].


4. Conclusions

The political market, alongside our society, has evolved in a faster manner than before, thanks to the social, technological and knowledge advancements. In Europe, far-right and populist parties have spread and gained more power and notoriety, from one election to the other. Some of the issues that are helping extremists come back on the scene are: anti- globalization, migrants, corruption, unemployment. In some of the countries, the radicals performed better and better in elections, even coming to power in Hungary, Austria or Poland.

In the last round of elections for the European Parliament, extremist gained 15% of the seats and the next year-round could lead to even more [12]. Globalization has shaped the European political market in the past 20 years, but not necessarily for the best. Although the new means of communication, the marketing tools and know-how have helped the business environment to thrive and to reach new heights, with digitalization being a big part of it, this success has not transferred in full to the political market.

While access to information grew and news stories become globalized, we cannot see the true benefits of nowadays politics for the general public. Parties and movements have emerged or changed in a way that lead to: radicalization, populism, the Brexit, protests, Euroscepticism, rejection of the globalization and social turmoil. The European Union is facing growing challenges and more and more dissonant voices from within.

The new electoral marketing and campaigning style, influenced by  the  developments on the U.S. political stage, beginning from 2004, changed  the relationship between politicians and constituents, bringing them closer or offering a greater voice for those promoting subjects of societal importance. New strategies and tools are being shared throughout the world thanks to globalization and, if used ethically, they can help promote a better relationship between politicians and voters, a better understanding of the needs and probably better policies. But, in light of the social events all-around the European Union, there is probably the same importance that we should give to the globalized political marketing strategies and techniques, as we should give to the message.

The evolution of marketing is visible and is gaining more and more speed, bringing businesses and consumers closer and closer. If these benefits are to be transferred to the political market, helping it get closer to the socially responsible oriented marketing, that businesses start to adapt to these days, then maybe the society will evolve and the politicians will not only address populist electoral themes, but they will try to gain electoral success, while also helping the political marketplace and the society to progress.


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