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Refugees in presidential political manifestos: between silencing and giving a voice

Os refugiados em manifestos políticos presidenciais: entre silenciar e dar voz
Alexandra Guedes Pinto
Tradução de Alexandra Guedes Pinto
p. 41-57
Este artigo é uma tradução do:
Os refugiados em manifestos políticos presidenciais: entre silenciar e dar voz [pt]

Resumos

A crise dos migrantes e refugiados na Europa do século XXI originou novas divergências no velho continente que colocam desafios difíceis à construção da identidade europeia. Classificada já como a maior crise migratória e humanitária do pós-guerra, a realidade dos migrantes e refugiados revelou uma Europa incapaz de responder ao problema com uma solução conjunta. Para além do aspeto humanitário, muitas vezes de contornos dramáticos explorados pelos média, o fenómeno é também motivo de fricções entre as instituições e os Estados-membro da União Europeia, ameaçando tornar-se o gatilho de uma crise política e de um novo equilíbrio de forças entre os Estados. Dada a centralidade que ganhou, a crise dos refugiados pode também ser perspetivada do ponto de vista do aproveitamento político por parte de diferentes fações, que dela extraem dividendos importantes para a sua própria territorialização. Discursos europeístas, de tolerância e aceitação, baseados nos ideais solidários do projeto europeu, coexistem com discursos extremistas, de tendência xenófoba e anti-integração. Na presente reflexão, analisamos a forma como o discurso político eleitoralista, do género textual manifesto político, codifica argumentativamente a questão dos refugiados, focalizando, para esse efeito, quatro dos manifestos eleitorais dos candidatos às eleições presidenciais portuguesas de 2016. A partir da caracterização do género seguindo a proposta de Adam (2001, pp. 40-41) das componentes semântica, composicional/estrutural, enunciativa, pragmática, estilística e fraseológica, metatextual, peritextual e material, confirmamos que existe, simultaneamente, unidade e diversidade nos exemplares analisados. Por um lado, uma unidade que permite reconhecer nos diferentes textos manifestações de um mesmo género; por outro lado, uma diversidade que traduz/produz efeitos na construção do ethos e nas estratégias discursivas e políticas de cada candidato. O tratamento da crise dos refugiados é justamente um dos temas cujo tratamento diverge substancialmente de manifesto para manifesto, revelando estratégias discursivas e políticas específicas.

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DOI: 10.17231/comsoc.38(2020).2603
Submitted: 14/04/2020 - Accepted: 01/07/2020

Texto integral

Introduction

1The crisis of migrants and refugees in Europe at the beginning of the 21st century opened the door to new differences on the old continent that pose difficult challenges to the construction of European identity.

2Already classified as the biggest migratory and humanitarian crisis in Europe after the Second World War, the reality of migrants and refugees has revealed a Europe unable to respond to the problem with a single and joint solution. In addition to the humanitarian aspect, often with dramatic outlines explored by the media, the phenomenon is also the cause of friction and fissures between the institutions and the Member states of the European Union, threatening to become the trigger of a European political crisis, leading to a new balance of forces between States.

3Given the centrality it has gained, the refugee crisis can also be seen as a means of pursuing strategic advantage by different political factions. Europeanist speeches, of tolerance and acceptance, based on solidarity ideals of the European project, coexist with extremist, xenophobic and anti-integration tendencies.

  • 1 It should be noted that, despite the time gap between the date of the manifestos under analysis and (...)

4In the present reflection, we analyse how the electoral political discourse, of the textual genre electoral political manifesto, argumentatively encodes the refugee issue, focusing, for this purpose, the electoral manifestos of the candidates for the 2016 Portuguese presidential elections1.

Contextualisation

5Starting with a very brief historical contextualisation of the speeches under analysis, we recall that the presidential elections under study were the ninth elections for the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic, since the Revolution of April 25, 1974, which restored the constitutional democratic regime in Portugal. They took place on January 24, 2016, and decided the successor of the President to date, Aníbal Cavaco Silva.

6Of the 10 candidates competing in these elections, only five disputed more directly the access to the position, namely: Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, António Sampaio da Nóvoa, Marisa Matias, Maria de Belém Roseira and Edgar Silva, since the rest obtained less expressive voting.

7Among the most voted, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who ended up winning with an absolute majority of 52%, and António Sampaio da Nóvoa, who was in second place with about 23% of the votes, stood out. These two most voted candidates initially proposed themselves as independent. However, they ended up getting the support of two of the main Portuguese central political parties, designated as “Bloco Central” (PSD and PS, respectively). The other three most voted candidates were Marisa Matias, representative of “Bloco de Esquerda” (“Left Block”), who received 10% of the votes; Maria de Belém Roseira, a socialist activist, competing as an independent, with 4.24% of the votes; and the communist candidate, Edgar Silva, who obtained 3.95% of the votes2.

  • 3 “Troika”, in this context of use, was a term popularised during the eurozone crisis to describe the (...)

8Although, at the time of the elections in question, Portugal was no longer under the supervision of the Troika’s financial assistance program3, the country was still facing the effects of a deep economic and social crisis, with challenging goals to meet with creditors and some very susceptible austerity measures, which have indelibly marked the context of this plebiscite. Almost all of the analysed manifestos reflect their context of production, namely through the strong denunciation of the state of the country; the expression of discontent and revolt at the state of affairs; the attack on the social actors held as responsible and through various overcoming and change proposals.

Type of discourse and text genre

9Another relevant aspect in the characterisation of these texts is their inclusion in the respective type of discourse and text genre.

  • 4 It is possible to consult a characterisation of the genre presidential political manifesto accordin (...)

10Using Adam’s proposal (2001, pp. 40-41) for the delimitation of text genres (according to semantic, compositional/structural, enunciative, pragmatic, stylistic and phraseological, metatextual, peritextual and material components), a brief characterisation of the genre presidential political manifesto within the type of political discourse is outlined in this study4.

11A political manifesto is a document in which a candidate or a party identifies their political positions and strategies and defines their proposals for action and future legislation, in case they win enough votes to come to power. It is a public statement of principles and intentions, designed to mobilise a community to join a political project. It therefore has stable pragmatic purposes, which are to declare the speaker’s political positions, to commit him/her to the future execution of specific actions and to win the audience’s support.

  • 5 The title is usually accompanied by an image of the candidate, in the case of presidential election (...)
  • 6 The classification of the dominant illocutionary acts in the political manifestos under study follo (...)

12From a compositional point of view, the manifesto has variable dimensions and a relatively free structure, but with some standard components. It always comprises an opening sequence with a title graphically highlighted5, which identifies a central semantic-pragmatic axis of the candidate’s proposal, the “campaign motto”, followed by one or more greeting acts and expressive acts of thanks, whose occurrence is optional; it also includes a closing sequence, with directive acts of incitement to vote and the closure, with the identification of the place, date, and signature(s) of the author(s), similar to what happens with a letter6. The development is always divided into macrostructures identified through subtitles. These subdivisions correspond to the identification of the main semantic-pragmatic sections of the text, which vary from case to case, but always include two major parts: the part in which the candidate characterises the current state of affairs and the part in which the candidate formulates the principles and the proposals defended. Taking into consideration the textual sequences suggested by Adam (2008), the dominant textual sequences are, prototypically, the expository and the argumentative.

  • 7 Benveniste (1966) stated that we is a junction between I and non-I. This non-I can be you or they, (...)
  • 8 See Pinto, Pinho and Teixeira (2017, p. 39).

13The speaker in a presidential political manifesto leaves traces of his/her presence on the discourse surface, either through the use of I or we (non-inclusive and inclusive)7, declaring himself/herself as a political actor, and changing, hence, his/her status from an ordinary citizen to a presidential candidate8. In this context, the construction of the speaker’s ethos becomes particularly relevant, being done, prototypically, by alterity, that is, in opposition to another actor – the other – which I uses to build a qualified identity. In this context, utterances of polarisation arise opposing I/we to they/the other that the speaker criticises and moves away.

14In linguistic terms, these speeches contain strong marks of modalisation and subjectivity, related to the implication of the speaker and also strong marks of argumentation, related to controversy and persuasion, typical of this text genre.

15From the metatextual point of view, these documents are usually identified by their authors as “manifestos”. There are, however, some variations in these metatextual references. António Sampaio da Nóvoa, for example, renames his manifesto as “Letter of principles”9; Edgar Silva, as “Declaration of candidacy”10; and Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa11 does not identify his text with any metatextual label12.

16From the peritextual and material points of view, these texts circulate both in printed mode, distributed eventually in the candidacies’ public presentations, and in digital mode, uploaded on the candidacies’ web pages and, eventually, on the supporting parties’ web pages. Both on printed and digital modes, these texts border other texts, such as the candidates’ photographs, the identification of related links, among others. In the current case, the dimension of the manifestos varies from a shorter version, such as Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s manifesto, with 1.400 words, to a more extended version, such as Edgar Silva’s manifesto, with 3.929 words.

The 2016 presidential manifestos

17From what was exposed in the previous section, it becomes clear that an area of ​​prototypicality is drawn among the analysed manifestos, with the salience of some regular and shared aspects, at the levels predicted by Adam for the delimitation of a genre (2001). These aspects enable us to accept the design of a specific text genre, within the type of political discourse: the presidential political manifesto.

  • 13 For this study, 2016 most voted five presidential electoral manifestos were compared. In this proce (...)

18On the other hand, although the inclusion of the texts in a text genre allows us to anticipate some of the manifestos’ organisational axis, the truth is that there is also an area of ​​specificity in each of them, with semantic-pragmatic, stylistic and enunciative differences, which result from, and simultaneously produce effects in, the construction of the ethè and the discursive and political strategies of each candidate. The approach to the topic of refugees/migrants is precisely one of the aspects in which the presidential manifestos under study differ.13

I come from a family of emigrants: the empathic ethos in Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s manifesto

19Among the four manifestos confronted, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s is the least prototypical one. This candidate, who started advantageously in the polls and ended up winning the elections, was professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon and had a long political career, having assumed several ministries in successive constitutional governments. The candidate also collaborated as a political commentator on the radio and two generalist television channels, having acquired a significant mediatic influence thanks to this public exposure. It is possible that this mediatic advantage allowed him to build an atypical discursive strategy.

20While, in general, political manifestos are characterised by a discursive construction based on a polarisation of the self towards the other (“positive self and negative other presentation”, Wodak, 2001, p. 73), creating two antagonistic axes, summarised in I = good versus other = bad, the presidential manifesto of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa moves away from this semantic and enunciative organisation, focusing his discourse on the characterisation of the self, through a biographical narrative that highlights his life path, his professional and personal successes, the positions in the public and private sectors, as well as some very general future commitments, without resorting to disqualification of the other for self-affirmation.

  • 14 From this moment on, the excerpts taken from the manifestos under study will be identified through (...)

21As an example of this non-prototypical strategy, it is possible to check the following excerpt, in which the candidate praises his opponents: “considering all this, as well as the announced candidates, all of which deserve my greatest consideration, and also considering the national situation after the elections for the Republic Assembly, I had to make a choice” (MRS’s manifesto14).

22Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s manifesto is also the least programmatic manifest of all, insofar as the candidate does not take an exact position concerning practically none of the topics covered by the other candidates. His manifest essentially bets on the explicit construction of the image of the self, in a kind of autobiography, in which the proponent selects those aspects of his identity and his life story that seem most relevant to characterise him and to build a relationship with the audience. It is through his biographic narrative, which sometimes takes on a confessional tone, of great proximity to the hearer, that he shows himself as experient, reliable, empathetic, supportive and worthy of the Presidency.

23The politician only indirectly takes a stance on the sensitive issue of migrants, again in a co-text of autobiographical report, by showing that, coming from a family of emigrants, no one else but him knows this reality well and accepts it as structural in our society. It is, therefore, in a non-programmatic context, but rather in a confessional, affective autobiographical account, that Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa insinuates his position of tolerance and acceptance in this matter, rehearsing a strategy of audience appeal.

24The passage below, in which the candidate characterises his family as a family of emigrants, is an excellent example of what has been mentioned:

I am the father of two children and the grandfather of five grandchildren. Most of this family of mine lives in Brazil, continuing an enterprise that my grandfather, my parents and one of my brothers embodied as emigrants. I know, like countless Portuguese, what it costs to be away and what it’s worth to be a homeland scattered around the world since many of our best had to leave because they couldn’t find the conditions to stay among us. (MRS’s manifesto)

25Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s manifesto is a manifesto made up mostly of assertive acts. Directive acts, in which recommendations or appeals could be expressed, and commissive acts are almost totally absent, contributing thus to the absence of an authoritarian ethos. One of the few commissive acts performed by the speaker in his manifesto is the following one appearing in the end of his speech:

it was to say that I will fulfil my moral duty to pay Portugal what Portugal gave me that I came here and that I am here. I will be a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic of Portugal, for all of the Portuguese citizens. (MRS’s manifesto)

26The scarcity of this type of illocutionary act, characteristic of political discourse and electoral manifestos, due to the formulation of the so-called “political promises”, also marks the differentiation of this candidate. Later called “president of affections”, the motto of his candidacy could be summed up as “I am one of you”, since this strategy of empathy is the most potent strategy he uses to assert himself.

The return to Europe’s ideals of solidarity and peace: the general discourse on migrants in António Sampaio da Nóvoa’s manifesto

27Full Professor at the Institute of Education of the University of Lisbon, where he had already held the position of dean, Sampaio da Nóvoa applied for the 2016 presidential elections as an independent. However, he had the support from centre-left political forces and former Presidents, such as Mário Soares, Jorge Sampaio and Ramalho Eanes.

28Sampaio da Nóvoa’s manifesto has a more explicit programmatic content than Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s, revealed in the frequent commissive constructions of the text, exemplified by the following segments:

I will defend pluralism, diversity, open discussion of national problems. (…) I will fight against amorphism, indifference, resignation, passivity, conformism and unique thinking. (…) I will not be a passive President. (...) I will use the word, the intervention and the influence magistracy that the President, and only the President, has. (ASN’s manifesto)

  • 15 We rely, in this work, on previous contributions to the study of modality in Linguistics, such as t (...)

29The directive acts are present in several moments of his speech, being expressed by diverse linguistic structures, all with the presence of deontic modality, either positive or negative15, as can be seen in the following examples:

this is, it has to be, again, our time (...). We cannot accept that the expectations of those who have worked a lifetime are called into question. (…) We cannot pit Portuguese against Portuguese, break the solidary bonds that should unite generations. (…) We cannot accept the shame of youth unemployment and precarious work, which are permanent factors of corrosion, crimes against the dignity of each and the future of all. (ASN’s manifesto)

30In some of these acts, deontic modality intersects with appreciative modality of criticism, producing hybrid acts. However, in these sequences, the criticism does not arise explicitly. The instruction is accomplished through the negative deontic structure we cannot x in which the candidate also verbalises a set of adverse situations in the past/present, pointing to the changes he proposes to carry out. The construction of I as opposed to the other is available in this semantic-pragmatic context.

31The only moment when the candidate makes a more direct allusion to the problem of emigration is in the following excerpt:

the tensions of recent years have jeopardised Europe’s political cohesion and demand an urgent debate on the democratisation of the EU. (…) The alternatives are, in large part, in return to the European ideals of solidarity, peace and convergence, ideals for which a President must fight, courageously. (ASN’s manifesto)

32Through this example, we confirm that there is no explicit reference to the theme of migrants or refugees in this speech contrary to what we will watch in the manifestos of the left-wing candidates, Marisa Matias and Edgar Silva. In Sampaio da Nóvoa’s manifesto the framing of the theme is more general, set in the basis of Portugal’s relationship with Europe and Europe’s return to its original ideals of solidarity, peace and convergence. This moderate position takes place through the generalisation and abstraction of the theme to the sphere of values ​​and ideals. It serves to preserve the positive face of the candidate, who is not overexposed, concerning a sensitive and fracturing issue.

The terrible scourges of refugees: hyperbolisation in Edgar Silva’s manifesto

33Edgar Silva, born in Funchal, graduated in theology and served as a Catholic priest. In 1996, he became a deputy in the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of Madeira and, since 1998, a member of the Central Committee of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), renouncing his religious career. In the manifesto that marks his candidacy for President, Edgar Silva builds an ethos that is based, above all, on the sense of duty and mission towards the Portuguese.

34In compliance with a more prototypical political manifesto model, referred to in section two, the self in Edgar Silva’s candidacy is construed in confrontation with the other. To this end, the author uses linguistic structures such as positive and negative deontic structures and a lexicon with a marked axiological dimension.

35In addition to sequences of evaluative assertive acts, expressive acts of criticism and praise and directive acts of recommendation, we find, in his speech, long lists of explicit and non-explicit commissive acts, where the candidate explains his program, as the following examples illustrate:

I commit myself to the cause of liberation from the bonds of poverty, seeing it as the duty of the President (...). I am committed, among other objectives, to promoting civic and political participation and dialogue with the representative structures of the Diaspora (…). I assume and will undertake the preferential option for the poorest, the exploited. (…) It is a commitment that has guided my whole life. (…) As a candidate or as President, I will adamantly defend the liberating ideals of April. (ES’s manifesto)

  • 16 Inclusive we appears in the manifesto as a way of building an ethos in which the boundaries between (...)
  • 17 See, for example, the excerpts: “this is a time when, in Portugal, after decades of governance in c (...)

36The image of I/we (supporters and potential supporters16) is constructed through an euphoric lexicon that aims to enhance the face of the speaker and the political and civic movement that he represents. In contrast, the construction of the other is accomplished through lexical expressions with negative value17. In addition to the use of dysphoric lexicon, the image of the other is also constructed through the use of the negative deontic modality in structures of the type we cannot x, exemplified below, similar to the ones seen in the manifesto of António Sampaio da Nóvoa,

we cannot be accomplices in the attack on the National Health Service and the Public School. (…) We cannot agree with the cut in social benefits, with the theft of income, with the brutal fiscal injustice, with unemployment, precariousness, the violation of rights, while refining the protection and support to big capital, which does not stop increasing its colossal profits. (ES’s manifesto)

37Through these negative deontic structures, the candidate confirms his critical stance (as defended by the movement he represents) contrary to an opponent stance, identified in the object of the clauses under analysis, where dysphoric states of affairs are listed, (“the attack on the National Health Service and the Public School”; “the cut in social benefits”;” the theft of income”; “the brutal fiscal injustice”; “unemployment”; “precariousness”; “the violation of rights”). The speaker disqualifies, thus, the image of the other, responsible for the described states of affairs and distances himself from him, rejecting policies of the past and committing to do differently in the future:

this candidacy that I assume expresses this demand for a profound rupture and a turning point in relation to the political orientations that so much disorder and regression imposed on our country (...). I argue that another Portugal is possible. With a mixed economy that defends national resources and production, employment, that promotes science and technology, that develops and modernises national productive capacities, that develops the sea economy and supports fishers, that supports and encourages micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. (ES’s manifesto)

  • 18 For a complete analysis of the discursive strategies in Edgar Silva’s Presidential Manifesto to the (...)

38In passages like the previous one, the argument is supported by the use of the present subjunctive referring to a potential world, different from the current world criticized by the candidate. The construction combines an illocutionary complex of criticism over the past/present and proposal for the future. The two realities, past+present versus future, are the target of antagonistic axiological positions, the first seen as highly negative and the second as highly positive, in a polarised configuration of the real18.

39The construction of a negative image of the other helps the construction of a positive image of the self. The sequences in which the candidate disqualifies the other are sequences of criticism with strong expressive illocutionary force, as shown in the examples below:

nowadays, the country is being plundered and destroyed by speculators, and those responsible for governance have decreed the subordination of Portugal to the markets (...). Policies in recent years have further aggravated social inequalities and poverty. An economic model based on low wages and low levels of qualification, the growing lack of accountability of the State for its social functions, the sharp increase in unemployment, the containment of incomes, cuts in pensions. (ES’s manifesto)

40The reference to the phenomenon of migration appears, precisely, in one of these sequences of criticism and denunciation transcribed below:

this is a time when, in the world, a perverse economic inequality grows between individuals and between countries. Social degradation multiplies. Environmental wounds are accentuated and the problems of workers are worsening and poverty is spreading, all as a direct result of the absolute dominance of the large economic groups. In this way, the unjust international order based on the despotic logic of the markets, which reigns over the Peoples and the States, appropriates all decisions and choices, multiplying foci of tension and war, spreading the terrible scourges of migrations, forced labour and refugees, unemployment, hunger and misery, which plunge a large part of humanity in unspeakable needs and intolerable suffering (…). This is an unacceptable course. (ES’s manifesto)

  • 19 We refer here to a linguistic sense of subjectivity, understood as the presence of the enunciator i (...)

41It is, therefore, in a long sequence of blaming, materialised in semantically negative names (inequality, degradation, problems, wounds, tension, war, scourges, unemployment, hunger, misery, needs, sufferings); highly dysphoric adjectives (perverse, unfair, despotic, terrible, forced, unspeakable, intolerable, unacceptable) and syntactic parallelisms (x grows; x multiplies; x increases; x spreads) that Edgar Silva refers to the refugee crisis, showing that it stems from the same source as the other social scourges (unemployment, hunger, misery ...), against which he and his party fight. The source is “the absolute dominance of large economic groups” and “the despotic logic of markets that imposes an unjust and unacceptable international order”. The stance is clear, with many marks of subjectivity as mentioned above19. ES presents a supportive, charitable and discontent ethos, ready to fight to change the international order that generates the scourges.

42The hyperbolisation of the theme is achieved by the employed enunciative-pragmatic structures, with particular emphasis on the highly dysphoric lexicon and the expressive acts of strong criticism.

43It is also relevant to mention the syntactic form of referencing the processes (through passives and the Suj-V inversion in the Portuguese original version of the text: “Multiplica-se a degradação social. Acentuam-se as chagas ambientais e agravam-se os problemas dos trabalhadores e alastra a pobreza”) focusing on processes and not on agents / objects. This strategy enables the attribution of all states of affairs described in the propositions (the social problems) to the same cause, referenced through Nominal Groups of generic and ideological value: “the absolute dominance of the great economic groups” and the “despotic logic of the markets”, those who are the real enemies to be destroyed. The rhetoric of this discourse, therefore, places emphasis on the dispute between the people, the victim of the social scourges, and the powerful elites, identified with the large economic groups and the market.

Risking the lives of children in paper boats: pathemisation in the manifesto of Marisa Matias

44Marisa Matias, PhD in Sociology and European deputy for the Portuguese left-wing political party “Bloco de Esquerda”, was the candidate for the Presidency of the 2016 elections in Portugal who devoted more attention in her manifesto to the issue of refugees.

45With an equally prototypical manifesto, from a rhetorical and enunciative-pragmatic point of view, Marisa Matias resorted frequently to criticism, evidenced by linguistic mechanisms such as the lexicon, selected to confer dysphoric attributes to the target entities, as well as metaphors and syntactic parallelisms. In pragmatic terms, several linguistic acts coexist, serving the main purposes of the text: expression of discontent with the present situation; criticism and disqualification of the other, identified as responsible for the state of affairs; suggestion of changes for the future; commitment to action and appeal to the cause. The segments below illustrate this variety.

46Starting with the declarative acts of the candidacy’s confirmation, we can note the following utterances:

I am running to bring a popular alternative to these elections, convinced that, in a Republic, it is the votes that decide who will be in charge of the State. (…) I apply to help defeat this project of the elites. (MM’s manifesto)

47Commissive acts are also present, as expected: “in a world full of injustice and wars, with me no one doubts that Portugal will always be, always, on the side of justice and peace” (MM’s manifesto).

48Expressive acts of criticism are frequent and forceful, due to the linguistic mechanisms mentioned above:

  • 20 It would be relevant to verify, in these excerpts, how the objects of discourse are linguistically (...)

the Right is desperate as we have never seen it before, great interests consider themselves at risk and, together, they have a project: where hope grows, fear spreads; where union is formed, they sow blackmail; where there are signs of change, they try to maintain the status quo. (…) The Right presents itself with a more civilised face, with a more modern and tolerant air, but make no mistake: anyone who tried to make television a springboard in the service of his immense political ambition will be willing to sell everything and its opposite to achieve his goals.20 (MM’s manifesto)

49The directive acts are also frequent, marking sequences of direct invocation of the hearer. In many text segments, this interpellation is accomplished by the construction we cannot x, already described above, working as an expressive/directive illocutionary complex of criticism and appeal, in which the lexical and syntactic repetitions increase the act’s illocutionary force.

  • 21 We note what was mentioned above about the hybrid character of these acts of deontic modality in th (...)

In a “Palácio de Belém”[official residence of the Portuguese president] that smells of mould, we will have to open the windows to get fresh air. It is the strength of democracy that will open them up. It is your strength. (…) We cannot have a President indifferent to the destruction of workers’ constitutional rights. We cannot have a president indifferent to poverty and unemployment. (…) We cannot have a President indifferent to the destruction of our agriculture and fisheries in the name of multinationals’ right to the competition.21 (MM’s manifesto)

50Of all the studied manifestos, Marisa Matias’ is the strongest in terms of the illocutionary strength of the linguistic acts used: the promises are bold; expressive acts of criticism are blunt; the remaining expressive acts, in which the candidate expresses her psychological state over the described propositional content, are strong acts, with the mobilisation of emotions such as disgust, deep solidarity, affection, among others.

51With regard to the sequence dedicated to refugees, this manifesto does not escape this rule and bears the strongest sequence of all the previously analysed, as can be seen in the excerpt below:

the indifference of the Portuguese institutions in the face of the scandalous drama of refugees is only understandable because we have government officials and representatives who never bothered to go directly to the places and speak directly with those who suffer and know what deep reasons lead someone to decide to abandon their land, to go to the sea and to cross Europe on foot, to push their mother’s wheelchair or to bring a newborn baby subject to bad weather and other risks.
No mother or father risks their children’s lives on paper boats if those boats are no safer than the ground they stepped on before.
Whoever fails to understand this is not worthy of occupying the Portuguese Presidency. (MM’s manifesto)

52In the speech of Marisa Matias, the refugees’ situation is the subject of a dramatisation, in a sense proposed by Trčková (2014, p. 87) “an adoption of mythical themes and schemas in narratives about victims, a selection of emotionally-loaded victim stories”. In fact, this candidate represents the situation in a highly evaluative way, a fact confirmed by the expression “scandalous drama of refugees”, showing her conceptualisation of the issue, through the referencing of the object by the name “drama”, and its qualification, by the adjective “scandalous”. In addition to this axiologically marked conceptualisation, the candidate also particularises, in her argument, specific actors and situations involved in these dramas, almost constructing life stories and associated visual images, with which the audience can easily identify. A populist strategy to approach the audience through the exploration of pathos is at stake.

53Hence, the candidate speaks of someone who decides to abandon their land, to go to the sea and to cross Europe on foot, to push their mother’s wheelchair or to bring a newborn baby, subject to the bad weather and other risks. The contrast between the fragility of the actors brought to the scene (the mother in a wheelchair and the newborn baby) and the violent processes they are subjected to (abandoning their land; going to the sea; crossing Europe on foot; facing the elements and other risks; risking one’s life) accentuates the dramatic character of these mini-narratives embedded in argumentative sequences. As Trčková indicates:

the contrasts are usually based on binary oppositions (the dimmed lights in the normally effervescent neighbourhood; climbing the hill in these dark days is to move between death and life, sorrow and hope; haven quickly becomes an ordeal), which are rudimentary tools in people’s conceptual systems, helping people to impose clear-cut categories on the reality, but also simplifying and schematizing it. (Trčková, 2014, p. 88)

54In the passage of Marisa Matias’ manifesto on refugees, the “paper boats” metaphor stresses, through the salience of the victims’ frailty, the emotional charge of these hybrid sequences, that combine the narrative and argumentative prototypes. In fact, construed as social types, the characters of these narratives intend to symbolise thousands of authentic people who experience these same situations, themselves reduced to typified and symbolic action schemas (abandoning their land; leaving to the sea; crossing Europe on foot; facing bad weather and other risks; risking their life). Through these discursive dramatisation resources, it becomes clear that the candidate chooses a more emotional (pathemic) way of building empathy with the audience. Due to this dramatisation, these sequences gather a derived illocutionary value of condemnation of the political opponents, identified as responsible for the drama. This strong disapproval is explicit in the statement that closes this sequence, in which the candidate concludes, in a deeply judicative tone: “whoever fails to understand this is not worthy of occupying the Portuguese Presidency”.

55This sequence ends with a discourse of exclusion, where I and they are polarised. On one side, those who understand and are concerned with the refugees’ situation, group that includes the candidate; on the other side, the others, who do not understand the situation, who, eventually, do not even recognise it and who lack the essential quality of empathy and solidarity, being therefore not worthy of conquering the Portuguese Presidency. The closure of this argumentative sequence configures thus an authoritarian ethos, invested with strong moral power that enables such judicial statements of high deontic value.

Conclusion

56Returning to the Aristotelian idea that ethos is built on and by discourse, Maingueneau (2005, 2008) recalls that there is no pre-established ethos, but, instead, that it is built during and from discursive activity. Giddens (1991, p. 54) also highlights the importance of the “narrative of the Self” in the construction of personal and social identity:

a person’s identity is not to be found in behaviour, nor – important though this is – in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going. The individual’s biography, if she is to maintain regular interaction with others in the day-to-day world, ... must continually integrate events which occur in the external world, and sort them into the ongoing “story” about the self. (Giddens,1991, p. 54)

57The construction of a credible ethos on the part of political candidates is one of the most critical strategies in the conquest of power. We were able to verify, from the brief comparative analysis of the political manifestos of four presidential candidates to the 2016 Portuguese elections, that the style of doing politics differs substantially among the candidates. The semantic-pragmatic and discursive processes studied seem to contribute in an integrated way to the construction of silencing strategies or direct referencing of the subject under analysis and the consequent political strategies for conquering power. A strong rhetorical construction, with a lexicon of high negative semantic polarity and syntactic parallelisms, found, for example, in the manifestos of left-wing candidates, Edgar Silva and Marisa Matias, configures texts in which the expressive illocutionary acts of regret, criticism and condemnation and the correlative appreciative modality gain particular relevance, serving the clear construction of opposition political projects. In the manifestos of the other two candidates, from centre-left and centre-right political wings, the moderation of political proposals is reflected in an equally moderate selection of lexicon, linguistic acts and modalisation strategies.

58We confirmed, therefore, that the management of the refugee crisis in the presidential election manifestos reflects and contributes to the construction of the ethè and the respective political strategies. The two most moderate candidates in the range of the most voted – Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and António Sampaio da Nóvoa – chose not to refer directly to the refugee issue in their manifestos. Instead, they used a more general framing, mentioning emigration in correlation to Portugal’s integration in Europe and European ideals. Silence is also a strategy, one of the conclusions we can draw is that choosing not to name and not to take an exact stance on this fracturing issue is a prudent political position, for those who want a less marked political ethos and a broader constituency. We also proved that Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa approached the issue in a more empathic and affective way, by presenting himself as an emigrant. He eliminated thus the potential distance between him, the object of discourse (the emigrants, the refugees) and the audience. In this way, he implements an ambiguous strategy, which enables him to refer to the issue without assuming a political stance.

59On the other hand, the two left-wing candidates represent and evaluate the refugee problem in a marked way, in the context of an ideological construction that opposes an I/we to an other/others, worthy of criticism and disapproval, thus contributing to an ethos and political strategy of opposition and social combat. In these manifestos, the victimisation of refugees and schematisation of their life story, with strong dysphoric lexicon, are appealing strategies that increase drama and pathos. The dramatisation encompasses a populist approach. Refugees, built as “round” type characters that represent thousands of real people acting in schematised/simplified situations signal an emotion activation strategy that includes sympathy, revolt, indignation and, consequently, the will to change.

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Bibliografia

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Pinto, A. (2012). Dialogismo, polifonia e heterogeneidade enunciativa nos manifestos políticos das presidenciais de 2011. Estudos Linguísticos/Linguistic Studies, 8, 195-212. Retrieved from https://clunl.fcsh.unl.pt/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/02/195_212.pdf

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Notas

1 It should be noted that, despite the time gap between the date of the manifestos under analysis and the date of publication of this work, these are the most recent Portuguese presidential elections and they took place at the height of the refugee crisis.

2 The electoral results were consulted on the page: https://www.eleicoes.mai.gov.pt/presidenciais2016/resultados-globais.html

3 “Troika”, in this context of use, was a term popularised during the eurozone crisis to describe the group formed by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank as the group of creditors that imposed austerity measures on European states indebted – such as Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece – in exchange for the financial bailouts provided.

4 It is possible to consult a characterisation of the genre presidential political manifesto according to the proposal of Adam (2001) in Pinto, Pinho and Teixeira (2017). It is also possible to review some of the characteristics of this genre in Pinto (2012).

5 The title is usually accompanied by an image of the candidate, in the case of presidential election manifestos.

6 The classification of the dominant illocutionary acts in the political manifestos under study follows Searle’s model (1969).

7 Benveniste (1966) stated that we is a junction between I and non-I. This non-I can be you or they, distinguishing the inclusive form (I+you), which includes the interlocutor, from the exclusive form (I+they), from which the interlocutor is excluded. The occurrences of we in the presidential manifestos under analysis are distributed in cases of the inclusive we, in which I and you merge, and in cases of non-inclusive we, in which we implies I+others, “other party members I represent” or “other supporters of my candidacy”.

8 See Pinto, Pinho and Teixeira (2017, p. 39).

9 Available at http://www.sampaiodanovoa.pt/principios/

10 Available at https://edgarsilva2016.pt/declaracao

11 Available at https://www.juntosporportugal.pt/

12 It should also be noted that the official statement of Marisa Matias, identified as “manifesto” was available on the official page of her candidacy for the 2016 presidential elections, at the link: http://marisa2016.net/candidata/manifesto.html. This page, however, is no longer accessible, and the declaration can be checked in an audiovisual version (EsquerdaNet, 2015).

13 For this study, 2016 most voted five presidential electoral manifestos were compared. In this process, it was confirmed that Maria de Belém Roseira’s manifesto did not contain any explicit or implicit mention to the issue of migrants or refugees, which is why it was not considered. The study focused, therefore, on the remaining four more voted presidential manifestos, namely, those of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, António Sampaio da Nóvoa, Marisa Matias and Edgar Silva.

14 From this moment on, the excerpts taken from the manifestos under study will be identified through the initials of their proponents. MRS corresponds, thus, to Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

15 We rely, in this work, on previous contributions to the study of modality in Linguistics, such as those by Oliveira (2003, 2013) and by Campos (1991, 2004).

16 Inclusive we appears in the manifesto as a way of building an ethos in which the boundaries between I and you blur, configuring an ethos of belonging to a collective force: “thus, this is our candidacy, ours, of an extensive and profound transformative energy. This is, and will be, our candidacy for President, ours, of a broad vital movement” (ES’s manifesto).

17 See, for example, the excerpts: “this is a time when, in Portugal, after decades of governance in confrontation with the values of April, social injustices and exploitation deepen”; “social degradation is multiplying. Environmental wounds are accentuated and the problems of workers are worsening and poverty is spreading, all as a direct result of the absolute dominance of the great economic groups” (ES’s manifesto).

18 For a complete analysis of the discursive strategies in Edgar Silva’s Presidential Manifesto to the 2016 Portuguese presidential elections, cf. Pinto, Pinho and Teixeira (2017, p. 35-68).

19 We refer here to a linguistic sense of subjectivity, understood as the presence of the enunciator in his utterance, as defended by authors such as Benveniste (1966) and Kerbrat-Orecchioni (1980).

20 It would be relevant to verify, in these excerpts, how the objects of discourse are linguistically referenced and what are the characteristics and qualities that are attributed to them. The use of the name “Direita” (Right, corresponding to right-wing forces) is one of the interesting cases to highlight. However, we will not be able to follow this analytical trail as it is outside the more restricted scope of the present work.

21 We note what was mentioned above about the hybrid character of these acts of deontic modality in the form of we cannot x, which have already been analysed in the other manifestos under study, except for Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s manifesto. These are illocutionary complexes, which combine two associated values: recommendation and criticism.

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Para citar este artigo

Referência do documento impresso

Alexandra Guedes Pinto, «Refugees in presidential political manifestos: between silencing and giving a voice»Comunicação e sociedade, 38 | 2020, 41-57.

Referência eletrónica

Alexandra Guedes Pinto, «Refugees in presidential political manifestos: between silencing and giving a voice»Comunicação e sociedade [Online], 38 | 2020, posto online no dia 23 dezembro 2020, consultado o 27 novembro 2021. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/cs/3932

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Autor

Alexandra Guedes Pinto

Alexandra Guedes Pinto, PhD in Linguistics and Associate Professor in the Portuguese and Romance Languages Department in FLUP, the Arts Faculty of University of Porto. Member of the Scientific Committee of CLUP, the Linguistics Centre of University of Porto, and of the Scientific Committee of the Masters in Translation and Linguistic Services of this University. Member of the Scientific Committee of IJUP – Youth Research at the University of Porto. Member of the advertising working group of the Portuguese Communication Society, Sopcom, and of the “Argumentation Hub” of the Media Innovation Labs from UP. Participant in several international research projects and networks. Organiser, since 2011, of the “International Conference on Discourse Analysis – JADIS” (http://web4.letras.up.pt/jadis) and founder and editor of REDIS – Journal of Discourse Studies (http://ojs. letras.up.pt/index.php/re). Author of several publications in the field of Discourse Studies, available at https://www.cienciavitae.pt/CB1D-AA66-6572.
ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9120-1542
Email: mapinto[at]letras.up.pt
Address: Rua Senhora da Penha, nº 250, 4460-423, Sra. da Hora, Portugal

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