Political Polling Popularity?

Popularity is something that can be determined by two things. Firstly, it doesn’t last! When too many people start liking you anyway, there is always someone that is there ready to knife you in the back. ‘Heil Caesar!’ soon turns into ‘Et tu, Brute’! Secondly, it depends on not what you tend to do but on what the other people (normally those that are voting for you) tend to think you are actually doing in the current circumstances. Popularity is nothing more then, in short, than an inherent social phenomenon that can rarely be explained and can rarely be understood. That doesn’t mean we can’t try, though!

Time and time again, we can look back in history, even our own recent history and say ‘why the heck did I vote for so-and-so’ or ‘he hasn’t done anything since he got into power’. Time goes on, and we forget, we reminisce and we end up seeing that person as being not quite as bad as they were at the time they were in power. French President François Hollande is banking on that right now, anyhow. He is grinning and baring it right now in the hope that the lowest popularity of the French Republic for a President will soon be a thing of the past. Or is he going to go down in history as the most unpopular President that France has ever had? Somebody said that his popularity wouldn’t increase as much as unemployment. 74% of the French are unhappy with him. But, that could have been predicted way before. The French nicknamed him ‘Mr. Flabby’. They thought they had it worse with former President Nicolas Sarkozy, but his ratings only hit rock bottom at 70% being unhappy in April 2011.

Have politicians got it wrong today. Is there too much spin, and not enough action. We’re talking about real action of course. Not just rhetoric. Not just the words we hear over and over again. The words that crop up in combinations these days are ‘resilience’, ‘getting back on track’, ‘going back to core values’, ‘unity’, ‘redefining economics’. Words, words, words. Where’s the action?

We have lists of the most ridiculous world leaders and influential people in our societies that are created. But, how can we rank their popularity against each other? If social networks are anything to go by, we could say that networks like Twitter can make or break people around the world. A US news agency once tweeted that there had been not one but two explosion at the White House in April this year. It was fake, but it brought about economic nose-dive and sent the markets into a tailspin. The Dow Jones dropped 140 points immediately. It might have picked up its losses after just a momentary blip that lasted nothing more than a few minutes, but the temporary loss was calculated at something like $135 billion by specialists. That’s a lot of dangerous money on the line when you get it wrong.

So, maybe Twitter is the answer to who is the most popular? Or, at least who makes us think they are the most active. Remember, it’s all about making people think you’re doing something, isn’t it? President Obama hits the top of the list in the world with the greatest number of tweets and followers. He has 24 million following him on average and that’s an improvement of 15 million since a year ago. Did all those people really follow him? Followers? Even the mere word makes us project them into a position of ‘leadership’, doesn’t it? They lead, we follow. We’re ‘followers’, not doers. But, they seem to forget that we can also ‘undo’ (them). Before Hugo Chavez died on March 5th this year, he was the second most active leader on Twitter. He used it as a media tool to fight against his opponents in the run up to the elections in Venezuela from his sick bed. He still had 20 million fewer followers than Obama though.

But, right now, who is popular in politics? Most European leaders have been retired to country estates or foreign countries in the wake of the political instability that has been our daily bread since the financial crisis took over our lives! Oh! That’s another word I should have added to the lips of the leaders of our countries. There were 11 EU leaders that have been ousted since 2008. Just to name but a meager few:

  •       June 5th 2011

Portugal waved goodbye to Prime Minister Jose Socrates.

  •       September 20th 2011

Slovenia had had enough of Prime Minister Borut Pahor.

  •       October 11th 2011

Slovakia got rid of Iveta Radičová.

  •       November 6th 2011

Greece saw George Papandreou resign.

  •       November 12th 2011

Italy kicked out Silvio Berlusconi.

  •       November 20th 2011

Spain voted heavily against Jose Zapatero.

  •       May 6th 2012

France wiped the floor with President Nicolas.

2011/2012 was definitely not the year that was. One that will be forgotten…or remain etched in the minds of those that had to step down or that were forced to.

Popularity ratings of most world leaders is on the wane. Is it the economic times and the financial troubles? The access to information? The rumors that spread like wildfire? The coming clean on this scandal and that scandal that gets revealed in our whistle-blowing age? Tittle-tattling is nothing new anyhow. Obama currently stands at below the average rating of all US Presidents (54% between 1938 and 2013), at 49%. His lowest rating was just 38% in 2011. He has a popularity rating of 49% today in May 2013, but he was at 69% in 2009. But, can we believe what we see in the polls? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran came in just after Queen Elizabeth II of England in a popularity poll for world leaders not so long ago.

When it comes to dishing the dirt, the politicians are always the ones in the firing line. They are the ones that take daily decisions (or don’t for that matter!) that affect our lives for better and for worse. But, hey we never got married. I didn’t say ‘I do’. So, it’s better to oust them as soon as they get too covered in the muck that’s being raked. A good mud-fight is always fun…what did a philosopher say one day ‘lupus est homo homini’, roughly translated as ‘Man is man’s wolf’? Woof! My bark is worse than my bite!

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