“Ostentatiously New” Parties (in Lithuania)

I have written a bit about new parties and particularly those parties for which being “new” is a feature (as Allan Sikk calls it, “the project of newness”)–and will be writing a lot more about this–but I never imagined that a single party’s advertising campaign could capture almost all of the basic issues involved with newness.  Enter Lithuania’s “National Resurrection Party”(Tautos prisikėlimo partija), a party of political outsiders run by a television performer  and producer Arūnas Valinskas (see him hosting Lithuania’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire“).

In addition to its origins outside of politics–and in show business–the party single five slide ad campaign offers a nearly perfect summary of the themes of “ostentatiously new” parties across the region all rolled up into a single package which itself breaks the “establishment” political mold with the kind of daring images that get attention and that most politicians would not risk using (the candidates themselves in drag, straightjackets, prison stripes, vampire-teeth and Viking helmets):

Theme 1: Fighting corruption
Caption: We will force the general prosecutor to work.
Behind bars

Theme 2: Honesty and independence (Along with Theme 1:Corruption)
Caption: We won’t steal from you (We can earn our own money)
We won’t steal from you

Theme 3: Tangible improvements in quality of life
Caption: When we rule, the price of heat won’t go up
Out of the cold

Theme 4: Defense of the people
Caption: We will fight for you tooth and claw
Tooth and claw

 Theme 5: Incapacity of the current political elite and its institutions
Caption: Let us enter this ship of fools (the ship is labeled “parliament”)
Ship of fools

These are really great ads–some of the funniest I’ve seen in a long time–but they offer no evvidence that TPP will break the cycle of brand new media-driven parties scoring big, entering government, losing their lustre and collapsing to leave a space before the next election (we’ve seen it twice now).  To the contrary, this party seems to have refined the process even further.  I have never seen an ad campaign that makes it more difficult to imagine the party’s future ad campaign.  It is hard to know where to go from here and so I can only assume that the party’s futures look like the ship in picture #5.  (Of course that’s what I said about Slovakia’s unprecedentedly popular ruling party Smer just after its election in 2006–see the last sentence in http://www.spectator.sk/articles/view/23721/2/).

Hat tip (much belated) to a bit of schadenfreude from The Monkey Cage http://www.themonkeycage.org/2008/10/post_130.html .  Thanks to Marek Rybar for obtaining the translations. Any errors in retranslation are my own.

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