E.g., 07/25/2014
E.g., 07/25/2014

Political Rhetoric in the Netherlands: Reframing Crises in the Media

Reports
October 2009

Political Rhetoric in the Netherlands: Reframing Crises in the Media

Words are crucial in politics. What politicians say about a crisis — and the venues they choose tocommunicate with their constituents — have a disproportionate effect on the public‘s perception of that crisis. In the Netherlands, the rhetoric used by right-wing populist politicians is often more effective than that of moderates because their rhetoric conveys passion and emotion, and is more readily picked up by modern media who favor crisis and controversy. Moderate politicians often find themselves reacting to their opponent‘s message instead of proactively delivering their own, which is ineffective with both the public and the media.

Politicians use two main rhetorical devices to communicate their authority in a time of crisis:―"procedural assurance," reassuring the public that institutions are still functioning as they should; and ―"emotive rerouting," using passion and emotion to transform the public‘s understanding of an event while still conveying the government‘s authority. In times of crisis, the latter tactic tends to be more effective in conveying authority, but not all politicians can use this strategy persuasively.

In order to communicate effectively, politicians must employ both conventional tactics (speeches at City Hall) as well as unconventional tactics (short, simple, symbolic addresses in popular venues such as talk shows). The Dutch case shows that a division of labor among allies may sometimes be the best strategy, as it is difficult for one politician to convincingly embody both these roles.

Table of Contents 
  1. Introduction
  2. Public Perceptions and Media Coverage in the Netherlands
  3. Crafting Successful Political Rhetoric
  4. Case Studies: Searching for Effective Political Responses to a Crisis
  5. Perceiving Perceptions: Some General Observations
  6. Conclusion