Spanish Election Lessons

The Alex Llonch Interview

Targeted messaging has never been more important to politics. Using the right technology, it can level the playing field between new and established parties.

Carefully scripted backdrop. Spanish Minister of Education Pilar Alegría, July 2023.

It’s not the norm yet. According to Alex Llonch, this transition will take up to twenty years as campaigners familiarise themselves with the technology.

This is especially significant now, the Barcelona-based political scientist told me in an interview following the Spanish election, as younger voters, who are more open to change, don’t feel adequately represented by today’s political parties.

Llonch cited two movements, Vox and the Catalan independence movement, as examples of novel political entities using hope for change and effective digital campaigns as tools to influence voters.

The parties are ideologically distinct but share the same tactics, presenting themselves as alternatives to the establishment, representing something new.

However, a problem comes up with the Spanish left party Sumar, as it seems to target wealthier, more educated demographics, distancing itself from its historically working-class base.

This trend, of course, is not exclusive to Spain and is common to progressive parties in North America and Europe.

The far-right, in contrast, is simplifying its narrative, focusing on a few issues like security and immigration, thus appealing more to the working class.

Llonch recommends that leftists simplify their narratives and consider embracing elements of populism, targeting issues affecting potential voters, such as income and rising prices.

Progressives also need to leverage emotional marketing, which is more prevalent in South American elections, to better connect with voters.

However, leftist parties should exercise caution and take a balanced approach to avoid alienating their educated supporters.

Photograph courtesy of PSOE. Published under a Creative Commons license.