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January 26, 2023

Playing the election

Electoral posters say less about the candidates and a lot more about what the candidates (and their campaign advisers) believe about the electorate. They each have their own perspective on people’s expectations which they try to connect to their claimed candidate virtues. It’s a politician marketing game played in the world of collective imaginary – the battle of posters and election slogans. Corruption and demagogy are two plagues that easily stand out.
If it’s all about a candidate who is not that good at speaking, has embellished the city he ran as a mayor and, on top of everything else, is also a German ethnic, you just cannot let the opportunity to depict the man of action and of quality work pass. The myth of the German toftman, the antithesis of the ‘Oriental’ lazy bone (with its several variants: Latin, Balkan, Slav) can work, especially in a country where the communists, at the beck and call of the Russian, tried to brutally destroy the heritage of four monarchs of German origin.

Also since it is still the time of a fascination with capitalism with its office dress code (with white shirt and tie), which is also the uniform of an army in the service of profit – it is not by chance that ambitious managers read Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’  – and the benchmark of an enviable social condition. If you can look like a general specialised in the economic `Blitzkrieg` tactic and an industrialist who trusts in the quasi-religious virtues of labour, all at the same time, your profile as an active German can be seductive in a society that seems to be in stagnation. On the other hand, the coat is missing, as it would impair the moves of the boss who walks out of his office and joins the workers on the works site, to give them precise indications. The proof of that is also his pointer with a precise direction, with which he ‘puts the finger on the wound’ of the country, leaving behind vague talk in favour of punctual interventions with palpable results. And, since his number one opponent is from a party that has vainly tried to remove its label as ‘corrupt’, he doesn’t forget to remind that, unlike other ones, he doesn’t have a taste for stealing. After all, it’s one thing ‘to pay in the German style’ and another thing to pay tip as a venerable local tradition.
The ‘Lawschool Blonde’, on the other hand, plays with an erotic imaginary. Wearing a schoolgirl outfit – her slogan referring to her ministerial achievements seems just a pretext for introducing the school and sportive background – and with a cheerleader attitude, in a white that makes you think of a vivid dark-skinned nurse (especially for a ‘sick’ electorate), the candidate is just ‘good’ – an expression bordering the suburban language. Schoolgirl but also a teacher, capable to bridle the class, by erotically channelling teenagers’ hyperactivity. Her stake is aesthetically programmes, as she promises the country effective surgeries and cosmetic treatments. There is also a worksite version of the candidate – one where she appears wearing a yellow safety helmet (typical of aesthetic capitalism). It seems a reply to the imaginary of the kitsch erotica with garage mechanics and plumbers in overalls.
The other one – the one with the dark hair, does not count on beauty and makes a semantic pirouette, returning the ‘good’ qualifier from the erotic argot to ethical demands. And also using the adjectival comparative: she is simply ‘better’. Not just better than the blonde, but also better than all the men. With a face of spotless bunny, she reminds the public that she has fought with the beasts in the fauna of corruption like no other. If the rabbit hunts the fox, we are entering the carnival register Mikhail Bakhin was talking about and Romanians have been waiting for a justice-making feast where they can offer bleeding corrupt people for free consumption at last.
Another candidate bets on his spectacles. Among many plain heads, his stands out from the crowd because of that item that no longer suggest a small disability, but makes a positive difference. Suggesting knowledge and intellectual quality – about 25 years ago the spectacles were a sure indication that would stir the miners’ bats called by his predecessor in the matter of local social-democracy – and even the wisdom of the person who tries to look at things ‘better’. Sitting at a table, the same person wearing glasses could look like a kind ink slinger who does not pose as an almighty boss. Just perfect to alleviate the anxieties of those who have had enough of hyper-virile politicians. Like the same predecessor, he wants to look like ‘a president for our tranquillity’. He could also be a teacher, far from the model of a vulgar leader who’s more used to bad language than with the finesse of culture. An intellectual’s face, in other words, capable to convince those who do not understand very well what academic ethics committees deal with.
A former chief spy claims competence. He seems to be forgetting that the genuine competence of such an office is exactly the one of never knowing just how competent he was. For simple ‘state secret’ reasons. That’s a true vicious circle.

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