Investigating Political Brands in Non-Party Political Environments: Post-Electoral Reform in Guernsey: An Abstract
The British Crown Dependency of Guernsey is set to hold an island-wide referendum by July 2018 on the island’s electoral process. The Guernsey government believe the outcome of the referendum will impact the way members of Parliament [deputies] are elected and envisage the creation of ‘political parties’ or ‘formal alliances’ in eagerness for the 2020 general election. The creation and introduction of political parties [political brands] on Guernsey would be unprecedented to the current-historic political environment of a non-party system structured by independent, individual politicians. However, research has overlooked this proposition from the perspective of island citizens-voters. This presents a unique opportunity for the proposed piece of research, which will have an impact as to whether political parties [political party brands] are desired by Guernsey citizens-voters and, if so, how will new political parties be created and conceptualised.
This research problem is grounded in the subdiscipline of political branding. Political branding can be seen as the application of consumer branding concepts, theories and frameworks to the political environment. It is acknowledged political parties, politicians, candidates, governments and campaigns can be conceptualised as political brands (Nielsen 2016; Pich et al. 2016; Scammel 2015). Despite the advances in political branding research and development into a sophisticated area of study, it remains complex and under-researched. In addition, there are explicit calls for further research in this area particularly in new settings-contexts and more research from a citizen-voter standpoint, which in turn will advance-develop the subdiscipline of political branding (Needham and Smith 2015; Nielsen 2016; Pich et al. 2016; Scammel 2015). Therefore, an investigation of political branding in a non-party political environment such as Guernsey and subsequent study of post-electoral reform would give valuable insight in to existing independent political brands and assess the prospect of the creation-development of political ‘party’ brands. More specifically, this study will seek to understand whether citizens-voters desire political ‘party’ brands, explore their ideal political brand formation and ascertain whether the introduction of political ‘party’ brands will strengthen political engagement. Further, the findings will offer internal political stakeholders the opportunity to design, create and develop their political brands in line with the wants and needs of the electorate, which in turn should strengthen political engagement, maintain personal relationships between politicians-voters and allow for the establishment of a tailored approach to political brand management in nontraditional political environments. The findings will have implications on Guernsey’s electoral process and similar island communities.
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