4 Jul 2010

A politician's most common word

The Swedish general election is beginning to get more and more media exposure here and the communicative abilities of the two main leaders will have a vital bearing on the outcome of this one.

Sweden's Fokus magazine has recently done a nice piece on the differences between the two main political leaders, Mona Sahlin from the Social Democrat party and Fredrik Reinfelt, the current prime minister and leader of the Moderate party, the biggest party in the ruling coalition.

For me, the interesting part of the article came in a sidebar where Fokus reported the top five words used by each political leader in the five most important speeches made by each leader in the last two years. They both top their list with 'not.' Both then seem to think its more important to tell us what should not be done or what they're not going to do.

As a communicator, I would tend to advise people to focus on the positives. Tell people what you will do and what should be done.

Reinfelt then goes on to choose the words 'Sweden,' 'country,' 'work,' and 'people,' in his top five most used words. For a leader of the right-wing moderate party, it's interesting that 'work' and 'people' come up highly. The Moderates have also been keen to appear without ties and suits at many events in a communicative bid to show the public that they're one of the people too.

Sahlin chooses 'work,' 'Sweden,' 'want,' and 'none' in her top five. That 'none' would come in at number five and 'not' at number one doesn't bode well in my book.

Obviously the choice of words is going to have a bearing on the results of these elections. The policies of both political blocks are not so far removed from each other so the personalities are going to be a determining factor.

As political races go, this is a big one. The ruling coalition actually has a strong chance of becoming the first non Social Democrat government to stay in power for more than one election term. The Social Democrats have been in power for 65 of the last 78 years. If they lose this won, it could mark the end of Social Democratic dominance in Sweden.

May the best wordsmith win.

Colm O'Callaghan is JG Communication’s Head of Operations so when he’s not blogging he’s looking after the day to day business at this wonderful communicaitons agency.
So, who’s JG Communication? We’re Sweden’s largest and, we think, ‘leading’ communications agency in Sweden. We help our clients have conversations with the people that matter most to them using the tools that matter most to us, words, sound and vision.

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Arantes said...

They did get re-elected in the seventies too, but still...

johnnostockholm said...

Thought it was a really interesting look at the election dynamics. The fact that both are portraying themselves as being against change unfortunately says a lot about the state of politics here these days.

Anonymous said...

Arantes. I stand corrected. Yes. You're right. My miss. But sure, it's still an important election - it will certainly send a signal if the right-wing alliance wins this one (if you can call them right-wing).

Johnostockholm - from a communicative point of view, it was the overuse of negatives that interested me but this is also a very good point - convincing people to vote for them by promising to stay the same.