They have ‘0.0 effect’, but the election signs are back

Suddenly they are everywhere again: election signs. In the vast majority of municipalities it is a neatly pre-printed pallet of election posters on which the parties or the leaders of the list recommend themselves.

But what use do they actually have? “It’s a relic from the past. They have 0.0 effect, but I think everyone has forgotten to stop,” says political scientist Peter van der Heiden of Radboud University Nijmegen at Gelderland broadcaster.

And that while making and placing the election signs is quite a job. Earlier this month, the Bordbusters company in Huissen, for example, started placing 400 preprinted signs, spread over 34 municipalities.

Notes on each other’s sticking technique

The plates are now in places such as Arnhem, Culemborg and Ede, but it is not a uniform sausage. The signs are all in the house style of the municipalities. And this year it is fitting and measuring on the board, because 37 parties are participating in the parliamentary elections. They are all on it; all 37 exactly the same size.

Doetinchem is also working with pre-printed copies of Bordbusters this year. A pity, says Frans Boerman of the local VVD. “In the past, we always met with all parties at the Buha waste company in Doetinchem to glue up signs that the municipality would later place everywhere. Very pleasant, with a cup of coffee and then a comment here and there about someone else’s adhesive technique.”

Completely irrelevant

Billboards, preprinted signs or even digital signs; ultimately it’s all about the effect, right? Professor of media and society Rens Vliegenthart of the University of Amsterdam once conducted a study into the evolution of election posters. He calls posters as a campaign tool ‘completely irrelevant’. “Nobody can be convinced by just a poster to vote for a party,” he said at the time.

And he still stands behind that statement. “At the time, that was still about the municipal elections. National parties naturally have more campaign options, so that posters may matter even less,” says Vliegenthart. “At most, those signs can remind people that the elections are coming.”

A beautiful image of the time

If it’s so much of a hassle about nothing, why don’t we stop? Probably because the signs belong to a long tradition of elections in our country. “It is one of the few campaign tools that has been used for a long time,” says Vliegenthart. “Together they form a beautiful image of the time.”

Just a habit, confirms political scientist Peter van der Heiden. “They will be back in the next elections.”

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