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Major role for mass media in Kuwait election process
July 12, 2013, 10:53 pm

Journalists and media men are exerting great efforts in preparation for the forthcoming parliamentary elections due on July 27, capitalizing on all available tools to cover the race. Since registration for candidacy began on June 27, the election watchdog has witnessed a remarkable media presence involving relevant arrangements, candidates and campaigns. Several journalists working with local newspapers stressed the significance of general elections as a professional experiment that would enrich their field experience.

Omar Al-Rashed, a journalist with Aljareeda daily, said all media representatives work actively in the election season, believing that social networking sites cannot wipe out the role of journalists, especially experienced ones. The election season always has a quiet beginning, but it becomes very competitive by the end of the electoral process, Al-Rashed said. Abdulnaser Al-Aslami, a journalist with Alsiyasa daily, opined that there is nothing new for the election atmosphere, but there could be something different this time due to the holy month of Ramadan.

Boshra Shaban, an editor with Al-Anbaa, said mass media play a main role in the electoral process, especially following the recent adoption of the election law which bans street pictures and signs. Mass media act as a mediator between candidates and voters; being used by the former to promote their views and planks, she said. Mohamed Abdulhafeeth of Alnahar said mass media constitute a significant source of steering, guidance and education in societies.

Journalists are required to do their jobs in line with international criteria and norms of professionalism, objectivity and neutrality, he added. Slogans of candidates running for the July 27 parliamentary polls differ from previous elections as they are of low-intensity in terms of political atmosphere in Kuwait coupled with a legally-approved voting system and how voters were digesting these mottoes. Slogan is an “artistic” style used by every candidate to influence the largest amount of voters as simple as possible, with emphasis on linking these slogans with everyday’s life.

Some see the slogans used by candidates complimentary to campaigns while others consider them very important because they were linked to principles of democracy and competitiveness. Specialists in mass communications, sociology and political sciences said variation of slogans used by candidates are closely linked with political and electoral system, and how the voters were politically aware of the social surroundings accompanying the campaigning.

This variation is also linked to candidates and their kills – culturally, socially and even financially – to persuade the voters to vote for them. Mohammad Al-Baloushi, Mass Communications Professor at Kuwait University (KU), said slogans of candidates “are irrelevant to the demands and aspirations of voters because they are related to reality, and they are indeed different between past and present electoral campaigns. “There supposed to be a link between the slogans and aspirations of candidates, but in reality there are many mottoes that don’t reflect the belief of the candidate but mere inaccurate hypotheses,” Al-Baloushi told KUNA.

He said candidates were experiencing what he described as “media weakness” because of high weather temperature, the fact that elections would be held in Muslims’ fasting month of Ramadhan and that voters were politically aware of the current circumstances. Al-Baloushi said some candidates were careless to the mottoes because they were confident they have solid amount of voters thus believe slogans would not be crucial in their campaigns. The constitutional court had last month annulled the parliament that was elected last December, and upheld the one-person, one-vote system.

The government then called for legislative elections on July 27. Dr. Khudhor Al-Baroun, a teacher of Psychology at KU, said slogans during Ramadhan might be more objective, rational and calm. Voters have adjusted themselves to the new voting system, noted Al-Baroun, and Ramadhan would contribute to easing political tension and encourage candidates to call for national unity and the country’s stability. Voters lean towards candidates who criticize negative aspects in the country, he said. However, some slogans “fail to influence voters because they depend on narrowly-minded individual interest.”

The fact that elections would be held in Ramadhan, noted Al-Baroun, mean the campaigning would focus on “good manners, forgiveness and fair competition. Political Sciences professor at KU Hamed Al-Abdullah said slogans in these elections would have low-intensity tone compared with previous elections because many people accepted the one-person, one-vote system “which was reflected in the campaigning of candidates.” Speaking to KUNA, Al-Abdullah said candidates become aware now that voters “are in dire need of the voice of the mind in order to achieve their program on the ground.”

Voters, he added, “need a method that speaks to their mind in order to end the state of desperation they are feeling and thus head to polling stations on election day.” Al-Abdullah said voters were eager to know programs and slogans of new candidates, who needed new and attractive mottoes. Some slogans are linked to reality while others are wrongly used to benefit from problems of voters, he said.

Yusuf Ghuloom, a professor of Sociology at KU, said that mottoes mirrored the political conditions in the country and how to address them. Slogans of all candidates are “all excellent but the important thing is implementing them to benefit the society and the country … thus the importance of electing the candidate who is capable of solving our problems and developing our society,” he said.

Source: Kuna

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