Best NIG paper award

Sabine van Zuydam from the Tilburg University has won the award of ‘Best Paper’ at the NIG conference 2016 in Antwerp, Belgium.

Title of the paper:

“Owning the stage: Understanding the performed credibility of cabinet ministers and parliamentary party leaders”.

Sabine van Zuydam (s.vanzuydam@tilburguniversity.edu)

Tilburg University, Tilburg Law School, Tilburg School of Politics and Public Administration

Owning the stage: Understanding the performed credibility of cabinet ministers and parliamentary party leaders

A prime premise of political communication in a mediatized world is that political leaders need to be persuasive in their television presentations to be successful in elections and in office. To this end their credibility is essential. Source credibility research argues that credible leaders are considered competent, trustworthy, and caring. However, while it is acknowledged that credibility is relational and dynamic, the interplay between leaders and audiences remains underexplored. For four Dutch political leaders (Mark Rutte, Diederik Samsom, Frans Timmermans, and Emile Roemer) it is therefore studied by means of a dramaturgical analysis 1) how political leaders present themselves in their television presentations, and 2) how citizens and others in the public debate on Twitter and in newspapers interpret and make sense of these presentations. Hence, focus is on their performed credibility: the enactment and framing of political leadership, in which audiences interpret and reinterpret the believability of leaders on the basis of their appearances. The analysis suggests that in their television presentations, political leaders should reroute critique by avoiding blame for events outside their control and by being specific about their current actions to tackle problems. Moreover, in positioning themselves it appears beneficial to demonstrate (factual) knowledge, to stand up for their principles, and to show interest in citizens hopes and fears all year round. Furthermore, political leaders should not forget to establish an emotional connection to their audiences. This paper not only highlights the importance of these qualities but also shows how leaders dramatize them in their performance.