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General elections - Electoral communication in times of crisis

01/12/2011 (dd/mm/yyyy) | Madrid


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We recently witnessed a very different electoral campaign, due to two factors: its timing and the certainty of knowing the winning candidate. It was exactly for this reason that the ESADE Alumni Public Management Club decided to bring together experts in political communication tohear about their assessments of this strange electoral contest.

Luis Arroyo
, President of the Asociación de Comunicación Política (Association for Political Communication), judged the campaign to be anodyne and unexciting, which would have been surprising for a campaign for change, were it not for the voters being rather dispirited. As an expert, he considered the positions of the majority parties as hardly innovative: that which saw itself as the winner, the Partido Popular (PP), opted to holding unwaveringly the lead it had won a considerable time before, while the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE), ran a text-book campaign, based on a lot of pedagogy, supported by rallies. According to Arroyo, the fact is that, “the campaigns mean little and do not significantly change the vote¿: the factors that caused the change of government were the crisis, and above all, President Zapatero’s mismanagement of expectations.

Gabriel Elorriaga
, director of the PP campaign in the previous two elections, commented that the party has gained a very important electoral stability and loyalty over the last fifteen years, thanks to their own good judgment and their rival’s errors, evident in the process of replacing their leader. He also highlighted that it had been a campaign subject to new legal guidelines, such as the reduction of the campaign period and the absence of pre-campaign advertising. “Campaigns, at the end of the day, are won by those who manage to impose their agenda (the topics of debate)¿, given that both the PP and the PSOE have had for some time certain brand attributes that are impossible to change during a campaign.

Pilar Cernuda
, a political journalist, focused on what, in her opinion, the winning candidate did well and the loser not so well. Rajoy began, in 2008, with a very bad internal situation, which he overcame working with a new, unknown and inexperienced campaign team. He made headway, to some extent, thanks to his rival’s errors, which he knew how to manage with his now famous “silences¿. According to Cernuda, apart from the management of the crisis, Rubalcaba was damned by a mistaken communication strategy: “He lost Prisa’s support, the campaign team failed and he committed errors in his positioning, creating an assembly-like image.



The upcoming electoral campaign for the general elections on 20th November and the delicate moment Spain is going through both underline the importance of communication and marketing strategy in the political world. The ESADE Alumni Public Management Club cordially invites you to this panel discussion where the speakers, joining us from the worlds of communication, politics and journalism, will explain the key factors behind the strategic decisions political parties adopt, the importance they attach to the questions of social media communication and marketing strategy, how they develop them, and what their societal impacts may be.

Luis Arroyo, Chairman of Asesores de Comunicación Pública and political communication adviser  

Gabriel Elorriaga, Member of Parliament for Madrid for the Grupo Popular

Pilar Cernuda, Journalist and Writer


Luis Arroyo

Chairman of Asesores de Comunicación Pública since October 2008. Before this he was Deputy Chief of Staff of the First Vice-President's Cabinet Office and Director of the cabinets of then Housing Minister Carme Chacón and the two Secretaries of State for Communication between 2004 and 2008. Prior to working for the presidency of the government of Spain, he worked as an independent consultant, was the Founder and Chairman of MediaTrainers, and Director of Public Affairs and Crisis Communication at Edelman. He graduated in Sociology from the Universidad Complutense, and lectures at several universities and institutions. He also founded and co-directed the Instituto Nacional de Administración Pública de España specialisation course in public communication and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid master in Political and Electoral Communication. He is the chairman of ACOP (Asociación de Comunicación Política) and was a board member of the Spanish association of communication directors Dircom. He has also written several articles on communication. 


Gabriel Elorriaga

Member of Parliament of the eighth and ninth governments of Spain and graduate in Law from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Lawyer. Tax Inspector. State Auditor. Deputy Director of the Presidency Cabinet Office (1996-2000). Secretary of State for Territorial Organisation (2000-2004). Head of Studies and Training for the Partido Popular (2004-2008). Member of the Fundación para el Análisis y los Estudios Sociales (FAES) and the Real Instituto Elcano de Estudios Internacionales y Estratégicos.


Pilar Cernuda 

Graduate in Journalism, she was Director of Fax Press, the news agency founded by Manuel Leguineche, until September 2009. She currently collaborates with Onda Cero, Telemadrid and ABC, and has covered royal family news and been the ABC correspondent in New York. She regularly takes part in radio and television debates. She has also written nine books and co-authored another six.

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