The place of text in election posters

The place of text in election posters

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  • Workers, Peasants, all behind the Communist flag for your immediate demands.

  • You pay crushing taxes.

Workers, Peasants, all behind the Communist flag for your immediate demands.

© Contemporary Collections

You pay crushing taxes.

© Contemporary Collections

Publication date: April 2007

Historical context

1920s, political years

The Sacred Union initiated by President Poincaré upon the declaration of war in August 1914 broke out during the conflict, which was too long and too trying for political and social tensions not to end up resurfacing. The right-wing parties, on the other hand, less structured but often violently anti-Communist, strove throughout the decade to reform a "bloc" which would revive the policy of Sacred Union. "Blocks" welded behind a providential man (Clemenceau, Poincaré) against "cartels" of electoral union and anti-bourgeois "Workers 'and Peasants' Bloc", such is the political landscape of the 1920s.

Image Analysis

Red and black, text and image

The two posters, of completely opposite political origin, use the typography in red and black in a fairly comparable way to explain to voters their goals.

The first poster, distributed by the Communists in 1924, is striking in the length and density of the text, barely punctuated by a single symbol, the sickle and the hammer, available in only two variations. The main words, colored in red, are distinguished by the size or weight of the letters, while the use of italics in the slogan in the center emphasizes the topical theme: Repairs. The deeply internationalist character and the militant social policy of the Communist Party are thus evident, when, by contrast, the terms "demands", "imperialist", "amnesty", "against the tax" emerge. The Communists intend to propose a total program: political and social, national and international.

The second poster, which dates from 1928, is clearly marked on the right. It has two thumbnails of equal size, which take up half the space. The text, much shorter than in the first poster, is printed in cursive, as if it were a letter written by a friend. A friend who would complain about the high cost of living, the negligence of the so-called left, whose leaders are caricatured; a friend who plays on popular anti-parliamentarianism and ignores the role of right-wing capitalists in the state's bankruptcy, only to deplore its effects. All that matters is one capital metaphor: the hole. Hollowed out by the left, it is filled with difficulty by the taxpayers who bow their heads trying to help the "savior" of the national economy, Poincaré.


From political poster to poster policy

The posters are both distinguished by a violent reaction, underlined in red, against a situation deemed unbearable. In the communist poster, this contrasting color is also that of the revolution: the newly created party is a party of action, which militates for the immediate satisfaction of concrete social demands and is thus part of the long line of the workers' movement. . The sickle and hammer, an easily identifiable Communist emblem, is the only design used, as if it were sufficient in itself. In the 1924 elections, the Communists managed to double the number of their deputies (26), proof that the initial enthusiasm had not waned, despite the defections. However, the type of communication implemented belongs to the XIXe century rather than the XXe. The text largely prevails over the image (it is still the case today in the electoral posters of the extreme left), because one appeals to the reason and not to the emotion, one seeks adhesion, not an ephemeral mobilization.

On the contrary, the anti-Cartel poster, the later of the two, shows an increasing attention to the force of the image, which is also the force inherent in a slogan or a shocking formula. The red here is that of indignation and denunciation. Far from the debate of ideas and major principles, here we contrast (politicians) to (politicians), and quantified facts to the narrow-minded (supposed) idealism of the cartelist left. However, this composition shows that we are still far from having explored all the possibilities offered by the link between text and image, not very obvious here, because the drawings are poorly contrasted, and the text not sufficiently powerful. Just as the communist program of 1924 contrasts with the other posters created for the same party, in particular by Grandjouan, the anti-Cartel placard clashes with the production of the National Republicans of Kérillis.

  • Communism
  • propaganda
  • Third Republic
  • Poincaré (Raymond)
  • poster
  • imperialism
  • tax


Maurice AGULHON, The Republic, volume II, “1932 to the present day”, Paris, Hachette, coll. “Pluriel”, new expanded edition, 1990.

Jean-Jacques BECKER and Gilles CANDAR (dir.), History of lefts in France, volume II, "XXth century, to the test of history", Paris, La Découverte, 2004.

Jean-François SIRINELLI (dir.), The French rights, from the Revolution to the present day, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Folio History", 1992.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, “The place of text in electoral posters”

Video: Photoshop for Beginners - How to make a Political Ad Poster Tagalog Tutorial


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