How to win an election by being dull

So the Financial Times’ Quentin Peel has written an excellent article about what makes the German Chancellor Angela Merkel so successful in Germany and Europe.

Apparently it’s called “asymmetrical demobilisation”. It’s typical for political scientists to create jargon where none is needed. Indeed “AD” as it probably won’t become known has been around for a while.

In 2005 it was clear that the way the UK Conservative party could gain seats was through getting its supporters to turn up at the ballot box in higher numbers than Labour’s. But – and here’s the crucial part – that doesn’t have to mean getting more people to vote for you. Instead you work to ensure that fewer people vote for the opposition.

So Merkel avoids public announcements on controversial, touchstone opposition issues. This gives her opponents very little to criticise her for, which demotivates their supporters. At the same time Merkel appropriates popular, less controversial opposition policies, demotivating them further.

It’s clever, bold, and has worked for Merkel – although her advisers reject the “asymmetrical demobilisation” tag. The question is could Cameron win by doing the same thing?

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