A beginner’s guide to journaling: Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the self-care ritual
A beginner’s guide to journaling: Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the self-care ritual

Sarah Finnan

This Sandymount extension transformed the space, but didn’t even need planning permission
This Sandymount extension transformed the space, but didn’t even need planning permission

Megan Burns

Looking for a treat to cosy up with? Try this ultimate millionaire’s shortbread recipe
Looking for a treat to cosy up with? Try this ultimate millionaire’s shortbread recipe

Meg Walker

Black lipstick: Here’s how to pull it off
Black lipstick: Here’s how to pull it off

Jennifer McShane

‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid
‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid

Amanda Cassidy

What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce
What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce

Meg Walker

How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial
How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial

Niamh Ennis

The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting
The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting

Sophie White

Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs
Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs

Megan Burns

Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge
Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge

Holly O'Neill

Image / Editorial

Opinion: Election posters are completely unnecessary for a 21st century election


by Erin Lindsay
30th Jan 2020
Opinion: Election posters are completely unnecessary for a 21st century election

2020 sees the first general election of the decade — why are we still using (and abusing) election posters?


As we move into the final week before #GE2020, momentum has built and parties are throwing their efforts into securing last-minute votes. Between TV debates, news cycle gaffes, and sound-bite-friendly one-liners, there is plenty of material to inform the common voter’s decision — but one thing that isn’t swaying any votes is the posters on the streetlamp outside.

The Irish election poster is a funny art form. An awkwardly smiling candidate, a five-word (maximum) tagline that’s supposed to inspire you, and a logo of a political party that you may or may not know the policies of. The formula for success, it seems, that has been tried and tested — an election poster has not exactly acted as a blank canvas for creativity over the years.

You would imagine that this tired format that attacks voters’ eye line at every turn would have long been retired by now, in favour of online efforts to catch our attention. But while online political strides have been made, with less-than-perfect outcomes (cough, Cambridge Analytica, cough), the humble election poster still shows no signs of throwing in the towel.

Why do parties print thousands upon thousands of these plastic eyesores? One can only assume that their popularity is tied to the old cliché of ‘a face you can trust’, and that suspicious voters like to look their candidates in the cardboard eye before making a decision. But the question must be asked — has anyone in their entire life been unsure of who to vote for, saw a face on an election poster and said “yep, that’s the one for me” without a second thought?

I refuse to believe that these boring rectangles have any actual sway when it comes to general elections. Which leads me to ask — why are they still around?

The environment

In 2020, one would think that climate change would be a red line issue for every political party in a general election. In Ireland, we have consistently performed poorly on the carbon emissions front, and our position as the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita in the EU means that the next government will have to make some serious changes to our climate plans.

But in reality, climate change has disappointingly taken a back seat as we move towards GE2020. Public concerns about housing, the healthcare system, Brexit and the economy have taken precedence over the environment, and Ireland’s Green Party, who should have had a stellar year if we go by global attitudes to climate change, is still hovering at the 8% mark ahead of voting.

This lack of concern about the environment at a top-line level is no more apparent than in the sea of election posters across city streets. Most posters are made out of corrugated plastic, which, if improperly handled and not recycled, will stick around for at least 400 years. Factor in the cable ties, the emissions of transport to put them up, and the impact of creating them in the first place, and we’ve got an entirely unnecessary blight on the environment.

The information super-highway

While social media echo chambers and the dumpster fire that is Twitter political discourse are not your friends during election time, there is no denying the potential for good that the internet has in making a voting decision. We take for granted that we have access to all the information we could ever need about any subject.

A party’s complete manifesto, its history in the Dáíl, a candidate’s voting history and even quizzes to match you to a candidate to vote for is all a couple of clicks away. Surely, this wealth of information trumps a “we can do it” tagline on a tired poster on the street corner?

Image-centric

On a purely superficial level, election posters that show only a smiling face of a candidate, are, well, superficial. They show nothing of substance about this person who wants your vote — they seem to think that a curly blow-dry or a fresh shave will be enough to sway our minds.

Are we so shallow that we would rather a candidate that is easy on the eye than one who genuinely cares about politics? I would say no, but the obsession with posters says otherwise. With election posters being such a focus for parties’ efforts, I can only imagine the pressure put on candidates to look their best to shoot them.

How to look friendly, yet tough? Approachable, but able to get the job done? Can have the craic, but never on company time? And the conversation about how this election-ready look puts disproportionate pressure on women (more make-up, bigger blow-drys) is one that deserves an entirely separate piece.

So, in 2020, are we sure that election posters are money well spent? I’d argue that that money, if spent instead on community outreach, public meetings and tangible political work, would be worth its weight in election posters.


Read more: ‘I’ve officially been squeezed out of the Dublin rent rat race. I’m moving an hour and a half away’

Read more: 9 questions you should ask candidates ahead of the General Election

Read more: Go green in 2020: easy ways to cut back on plastic waste this year

Also Read

Opinion: Election posters are completely unnecessary for a 21st century election
EDITORIAL
‘Romy & Michele’ actress Cortney Wolfston on being fired while pregnant

“I was confused. Hadn’t I just been told this was a perfect time to be pregnant?” she questioned. Actress Cortney...

By Sarah Finnan

Opinion: Election posters are completely unnecessary for a 21st century election
EDITORIAL
‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid

Not everyone was happy about the Duchess of Sussex getting involved in US politics. But her letter on behalf of...

By Amanda Cassidy

Opinion: Election posters are completely unnecessary for a 21st century election
EDITORIAL
Attending multiple weddings this year? How to save money as a guest

These days, going to a wedding is the equivalent of going on a short holiday in terms of cost. From...

By Jennifer McShane

Opinion: Election posters are completely unnecessary for a 21st century election
EDITORIAL
5 houseplants we guarantee you can keep alive

For those who buy houseplants with the best of intentions and end up killing them, here’s a selection you’ll be...

By Hannah Hillyer

Opinion: Election posters are completely unnecessary for a 21st century election
EDITORIAL
8 easy ways to keep your brain healthy that you can do right now

Your brain health is just as important as that of the rest of your body, says psychologist and neuroscientist Dr...

By IMAGE

Opinion: Election posters are completely unnecessary for a 21st century election
EDITORIAL
Sarah Harding’s heartbroken mum announces the singer’s death aged just 39

Sarah Harding has died at the age of just 39, her heartbroken mother revealed today. The Girls Aloud star had...

By Amanda Cassidy

Opinion: Election posters are completely unnecessary for a 21st century election
EDITORIAL
How to limit drips and brush strokes while painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets can be transformative and can be achieved relatively low-cost, but you need the right equipment, and a lot of...

By Amanda Kavanagh