Election poster semiotics

Over on Slugger O'Toole (the anorak's favourite blog) there has already been some analysis of the Northern Ireland Euro election candidates’ party election broadcasts and household-drop leaflets.

Being something of an election nerd myself, I’m always fascinated by those big posters stuck on lamp-posts the length and breadth of Northern Ireland. As any good tabloid journalist will be happy to tell you, there is a real and rare skill in brevity, in being able to boil the essence of a complicated story into a few, choice words.

So, for a couple of weeks, electoral law gives our wonderful political parties an opportunity to express their manifesto message, their election exhortation in a photo, some iconography, a colour scheme and half a dozen words. It is that brevity which speaks volumes. Election posters rock!*  Here are my random, irreverent, thoughts – feel free to add your own.

Jim Allister. Largest Union flag – ‘I’m the Britishest!’

Diane Dodds. Most sharply defined Union flag – ‘No, I’m the Britishest!!’

Jim Nicholson. Most prominent St George’s flag in my Union flag – ‘I’m the most controlled by Conservative central office… I mean… No, I’m the Britishest!!!’

Bairbre de Brún. Most use of an Gaeilge and national colours: ‘I’m the Irishest!’

Alban Maginness. Widest grin: ‘I’m the happiest!’ (for now). Possibly only equalled by other, most worried candidate, Jim Nicholson.

Steven Agnew. Most trees: ‘I love trees, me!’

Ian Parsley. Most use of blue: ‘Like the Tories? You’ll love me!’ (oops, now they’ve now gone all white – what’s that all about? And what’s with all those multiple posters and messages.

Jim Allister: ‘Experience. Principle. Integrity.’  Extraneous. Pointless. Inane. Know. When. To. Stop. When. Designing. Your. Poster.

Diane Dodds. The family name ‘Dodds’ takes up a third of poster. I wonder why?

Jim Nicholson. Conversely, could the words ‘Conservatives and Unionists’ be any smaller?

Bairbre de Brún. ‘We may not like Europe, but we still used a few stars from the EU flag. Well, you never know.’

Alban Maginness. ‘When we win, you win’. Only serves to remind us that he’ll probably lose, although, you never know….

Steven Agnew. Can’t see the words for the trees.

Ian Parsley. Only party to design their posters using Microsoft Word.

Steven Agnew. ‘Only bought my suit after this picture had been taken.’

Jim Nicholson.Vote for change’. Come again…

Ian Parsley: Only party not to resist Obama-esque ‘hope’ in the campaign: www.vote4hope.eu

Jim Allister: funniest and most surreal billboard

Best election photo (featuring posters!) of the campaign…

Okay, all joking aside, which do you think is the best or worst poster of the campaign (contributions welcome from outside NI – this one is a hoot, for a start!)? For my money, I think the sharpest, cleanest designs in NI are those from Diane Dodds and Alban Maginness, with a runners-up prize going to Steven Agnew for having the most distinctive look (trees and no suit – green political semiotics gone mad!).

What’s this got to do with human rights? Eh… absolutely nothing. So, to justify the presence of this bit of election fever fluff and fun on Belfast and Beyond, I’ll just say: don’t forget to think ‘human rights’ when you cast your ballot on Thursday. If you want a reminder of some of the key issues, visit the blog of our hustings event from earlier in the campaign.

(*Although posters never have and never will win an election.)

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