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IP 11 (Phase I): The strategies of political actors – process and message

Political campaigns are gaining in importance in today’s audience democracy, where an ever-growing part of politics is media-centered. While an abundant supply of information is available, the public and the decision-makers can only focus on a limited number of politically relevant problems. Therefore, the struggle for attention has become the focal point of democratic politics, and attention shifts the key mechanisms in the development of political conflicts.

This project focused on the public-oriented strategies of political actors such as political decision-makers, interest groups, social movement organizations, experts and international organizations. They struggle for the attention of the public in order to promote their agenda and seek to influence political decisions by shifting the focus of the public debate to aspects favoring their own position and by attempting to persuade the public of the validity of their own arguments. Therefore, public opinion not only has an impact on the political process but is itself decisively shaped by politics. The project adressed questions such as:

  • How do political actors try to influence public opinion?
  • Which strategies do they rely on?
  • To what extent are they responsive to the public and the media?
This project was closely interlinked with projects 12 and 13 since all three analyzed the reciprocal influences and exchange processes among the three relevant actors in political campaigns, – political actors (project 11), the media (project 12), and the citizen public (project 13).
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Project leader:
Prof. Hanspeter Kriesi, University of Zurich

Doctoral students:
Laurent Bernhard, University of Zurich
Regula Hänggli, University of Zurich