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Political fragmentation is also visible in campaign violence

3 minute read | May 2019

VVD, D66 and FvD advertised by far the most in the last provincial elections, according to an analysis by research agency Nielsen. The pursuers often rely on improvisations due to a lack of financial strength.

In the battle for TV commercials, billboards, radio spots and newspaper advertisements, the VVD and D66 are the superpowers of Dutch politics. Both coalition parties spent more than a million each on advertising in the last election. At some distance follows newcomer Forum for Democracy (FvD) with expenditures of more than 655,000 euros. After that nothing comes for a long time; remarkably, the SGP is the largest of the smaller campaign parties.

Nielsen’s research shows that political fragmentation has also hit the campaigns. Only four parties have invested heavily in the mass medium of television. The VVD bought broadcasting time from NPO, RTL, music channel XITE and Ziggo Sport for a total of almost 670,000 euros.

D66 also advertised a lot on television. The gross media expenditure of the commercial with voice-over by party prominent Jan Terlouw was shown on the three NPO channels and RTL4 amounted to almost 4 million. Forum for Democracy was featured on NPO, RTL, Veronica, SBS and Discovery Channel and spent almost 2.5 tons.

In addition to ‘the big three’, only the PvdA has invested a considerable amount in television. The commercial in which a child in the womb talks about its future was shown on NPO1 and NPO2. Asscher and his advertising advisor also managed to force a free screening at De Wereld Draait Door. The PvdA has become more dependent on that kind of free publicity, because of the party’s difficult financial situation. In fiscal year 2017, the party had a negative result of almost 8 tons.

The former superpower CDA, which had a negative result of almost 9 tons in 2017, now also has to improvise. The party did have a commercial made in which party leader Sybrand Buma wishes everyone ‘a very good morning’, but the commercial was ultimately broadcast only twice and also at relatively cheap times. The advertisement has nevertheless become known because it was talked about in many talk shows. That was also the aim of the CDA.

For the PVV it is impossible to compete with the financial strength of the new right-wing rival, FvD. Wilders got no further than two advertisements in the daily newspaper De Limburger worth 9,690 euros.

Political parties also appear to spend a relatively large amount of money on outdoor advertising, such as posters in bus shelters and digital signs along highways. With over 4 tons, D66 is a clear leader in outdoor advertising, according to Nielsen. D66, for example, advertised with a large advertising column near the highway right next to the coal-fired power station in Amsterdam with the text ‘we will remove it’. Cost: at least several thousand euros. A party like the PvdA can no longer keep up and only spent about 1,200 euros on billboards.

The campaign’s black box continues to be activities on social media. Advertisements on Facebook and Instagram are tailored to specific target groups. Most parties agree that the costs of a digital campaign are still relatively modest. Even a party like GroenLinks, which relies heavily on social media, in its own words set aside ‘only’ 50,000 euros for the digital campaign in the last campaign.

This is an adaptation of the article The political fragmentation that appeared earlier in the Volkskrant of 27 March 2019 is also visible in the campaign violence.

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