Political marketing in Ireland : smoke and mirrors or real substance : an exploration of the potential use of marketing techniques on the voting intentions of first time voters in the forthcoming General Election
This thesis provides an investigation o f the phenomena political marketing and seeks to uncover its utilisation among political parties in Ireland. The research question is “Political marketing in Ireland: smoke and mirrors or real substance? An exploration o f the potential use o f marketing techniques on the voting intentions o f first time voters in the forthcoming General Election in Ireland”. The research is aimed at determining whether or not political marketing can influence first time voter’s intentions in the forthcoming General Election in Ireland. This study focuses on the Irish political and electoral system. A combination o f primary and secondary research approaches are deployed. Secondary research approaches incorporated a global exploration o f marketing per se while primary research strategies focus on political parties, campaigning groups and first time General Election voters in Ireland. Although marketing has received some criticism for its validity in the political domain, it is very clear from this study that its potential is very much recognised by the main political actors in Ireland. Furthermore, primary research took place in the form o f in-depth interviews with the key personnel o f the Irish political parties including the Green party, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Labour party. Further primary research included an indepth interview with local Roscommon county councillor Orla Leyden to establish whether there is a differentiation between political marketing at a national and local level. The author also interviewed two local Roscommon TDs Denis Naughten and Frank Feighan. Also, for the purposes o f generating an appropriately constructed questionnaire, two focus groups comprised o f first time General Election voters were held in the youth development centre in Roscommon. The second part o f the research involved the study o f the political consumer in this case first time voters. This aspect o f the research process involved compiling a questionnaire and distributing this among a variety o f samples o f voters. Questionnaires were initially (as a pilot study) distributed to young people at the local youth club in Roscommon town. Following this, a second round o f questionnaires was administered to youth development centres in Roscommon and Sligo. Additionally, use was made o f online survey techniques wherein questionnaires completed electronically were evaluated. The final samples were administered to Young Fine Gael and Young Fianna Fail. The author felt that the five samples chosen would incorporate a holistic view o f voter’s perceptions in the “first time voter’s category”. The reason for targeting these organisations was because members were o f the age 16-21. The five samples chosen incorporated young people o f 16-21 therefore first time voters in any future General Election due to be held on or before May 2012. It is interesting to note that the apparent rise in political marketing techniques through social media outlets is frowned upon by the youth o f today. The main findings originating from the study are that the question o f young people’s apathy is overstated. The author also noted that social media effectiveness as a marketing tool is unclear, it was also noted that there is no significant differentiation between the main political parties interviewed Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour party, however the Green party in particular are noted as representing the environment. In general the main political parties in Ireland use the same marketing techniques to generate the desired votes. The researcher concluded that local representatives target first time voters in the same way as the political party dictate.
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