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What's New
2015, November, 16 publication, book

Parties and Campaigning


My new chapter on parties and election campaigns has been published (at last!). It's part of a great new collection of scholarly articles about Australian political parties (details below). I'm trying to show just how central the party officials are to the contemporary campaign model. Here's an excerpt: 

"In pursuit of electoral success, national party officials responded to what they understood as the logic of electoral competition, which rewards campaigns that are centralised, strategic and well-resourced. They accordingly set about coordinating campaigns from the centre – from the national Head Office – to put in place consistent and unified campaign communications and efficient targeting of campaign resources. They exploited new marketing techniques to inform their victory-oriented campaign strategies, and rapidly changing communications technologies to shape their message and extend their reach into the electorate. They also needed to locate and develop new sources of funding to pay for these new tools. In responding...

to these campaign imperatives, however, the national party officials ran headlong into the traditional institutional practices of their parties. In the past these practices – reflecting the member-based, federally-structured character of the parties - had tended to produce campaigns that were fragmented, disorganised and under-resourced. In a professional campaign, the national campaign director exercises ultimate authority over all the party’s resources – its state branches, parliamentary leadership and specialised external marketing agencies. This allowed parties for the first time properly to mount a unified national campaign and to exploit national television networks for news and advertising campaigns built around campaign slogans and promoting their party leaders. As national secretaries and federal directors are typically selected by the party organisation, this role has given them more autonomy and influence in campaign management than their counterparts in the United Kingdom and Canada – let alone the United States where candidates, not parties, have primary responsibility for campaign management."

Published in Contemporary Australian Political Party Organisations, edited by Narelle Miragliotta, Anika Gauja and Rodney Smith,and published by Monash University Publishing.


Stephen Mills