Often - more often than not - politicians believe that we citizens are idiots and that with a single photo, the campaign is already half won. Some of the marketing geniuses surrounding the leader of the Popular Party (PP), Pablo Casado, couldn't think of a better idea on Sunday than to get their boss shovelling snow at the doors of a health centre in Madrid. It was immediately announced that this centre was not the only one and that those selected were the facilities where Covid-19 tests were to be given.
In the end, in the same way as his community manager sends a tweet and his communications head prepares a press statement, someone gives Casado a shovel and his Sunday's work is done and, in addition, with a video and all. This is not how you win elections but rather something very close to making an idiot of oneself. It is very likely that in one of the post-graduate courses the PP leader has done, someone has told him about the Schröder effect, but he didn't quite apply it here. Let's have a look.
German chancellor Gerhard Schröder was in a compromised electoral position at the end of the summer of 2002. The Christian Democrat candidate, the Bavarian Edmund Stöiber, was well ahead in the polls - as much as six or eight points. But flooding in the Saxony region changed everything: Schröder put on his boots, rolled up his sleeves and appeared on television helping with the recovery and, above all, with his face full of mud. There was an electoral tsunami in favour of the Social Democrat candidate and the Bavarian ended up as nothing more than the place holder between Helmut Kohl and Angela Merkel. A million miles from the forced image of Casado with his improvised snow-clearing kit, filling up his shovel a few times in rookie fashion, as if he were about to go off and have his vermouth.
Rather than making videos for television or social media, what politicians have to do is get to work and solve problems. Undoubtedly it would have been better to know how Casado coordinated his territorial leaders in resolving the difficulties caused by the heavy snowfalls in the areas they administer. And we weren't told anything about that. The saddest aspect is that he should prefer a shabby image removing snow in Madrid's wealthy Salamanca neighbourhood in place of doing the work for which he earns a public salary as leader of the opposition, or demanding explanations from his party colleagues about the shortage of paid employees and the consequent request they made to the people of Madrid to clear snow from the sidewalks themselves.