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Monday 26 April 2010

Sign(s) of the Times

I was lucky to grow up in a household where I never felt like any subject was ever really taboo. Of course, as I grew up there were inevitably some things I didn't want to talk to my parents about, just like any normal teenager. However, I always felt that I could have done if I wanted to.

One thing that remains a mystery to me up to this day is how my parents voted. My mother is Finnish, but has now lived outside Finland for longer than she was ever in Finland. Her voting habits have therefore been somewhat - ahem - random. (I have recently seen lots of interesting blog posts about the question of expats and their voting rights, so won't go into these here - check out Notes from Lapland for a good example, with some interesting comments).

Inevitably therefore, I have been more conscious of my father's political views, as they seemed somehow more immediate and relevant to me personally. I say political views, because I might know what he thought of certain taxation plans, what he thought of foreign policy... The one thing I never knew for sure was who he actually voted for. Of course, I could have made a pretty informed guess. Upon questioning, however, he always used to say that the great thing about living in a democracy was that his vote was purely between him and the ballot box.

I suppose that attitude has rubbed off on me, and I am always curious about people that advertise their political views at election time by putting up posters or signs with the name of their chosen party/candidate. I suppose it might be different if I were a member of a political party, which I am not (had you worked that out yet?).

I wonder about the purpose of these posters - mainly free advertising at a guess, and as with all advertising I suppose it is about mindshare. Does it really influence other people to vote for a specific party if their neighbours are publicly backing one versus the others? When I was very young, I used to think that if I counted the number of posters people had put up for each party, I would be able to predict the outcome. My dad used to joke that it made it easier to see who he needed to steer clear of in future. Is putting up a sign just a sneaky way of making sure you are left alone, as someone who has made up their mind?

Do you advertise your political views? Does knowing who/what your neighbours are voting for influence you in any way?


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