Branding and strategic maneuvering in the Romanian presidential election of 2004: A critical discourse-analytical and pragma-dialectical perspective.
Journal of Language and Politics, 7
In this paper I analyse differences in the legitimation strategies used by and on behalf of the two presidential candidates in the elections of December 2004 in Romania, using a combination of Critical Discourse Analysis and pragma-dialectics. These differences are seen to lie primarily in the varieties of populist discourse that were drawn upon in the construction of legitimizing arguments for both candidates: a paternalist type vs. a radical, anti-political type of populism. I relate the success of the latter type to more effective strategic maneuvering in argumentation, part of more effective branding strategies in general, but also to existing types of political culture amongst the electorate and to social, economic circumstances. In CDA terms, I discuss the "Băsescu brand" as involving choices at the level of discourse, genre and style; in pragma-dialectical terms, I view its success as partly the effect of successful strategic maneuvering. I also place the success of this brand within the Romanian context at the end of 2004, where often questionable populist electoral messages were perceived as reasonable and acceptable, as fitting adjustments to the situation and even as means of optimizing the deliberative situation of the electorate.