There are many phrases that politicians must have in their election campaigns.

“Sustainability”, for example, or “setting accents”, also “making yourself honest” or “stability” are always very popular.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful hit songs is a different word: "modern".

Politicians want to “shape modernity”, make a “modern policy”, create a “modern tax system” - modern, that always works.

Oliver Georgi

Deputy Editor in Charge of News and Politics Online.

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Because those who promise modernity can be innovative and fearless and at the same time set themselves apart as far as possible from the old-fashioned botch of the past legislative period (even if one was part of the government as a party). In addition: Who could object to politicians moving with the times, adapting themselves to new things, not looking back, but only looking forward at all times, into a hopefully brighter future, for the benefit of the citizens of this country me by my name?

In the current election campaign, too, the word “modern”, seconded by its close relative “change”, plays an important, perhaps decisive role. CDU Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, whom some people are just calling for his refusal to polarize, which is considered unfashionable, already declared a “decade of modernization” a while ago. Laschet's favorite opponent Markus Söder also thanked Laschet after his power struggle with Laschet for the candidacy for chancellor "with the young, with the modern, with those who were looking for the future" - which of course was a maximum rhetorical foul, because the message itself was for Södersche Relationships with a wooden hammer: If only he himself, Söder, has to do with modern, young and sustainable people - what does Laschet stand for? Especially since the question iswhat is “modern” supposed to mean: radically different than before? A cautious evolution that keeps the old-fashioned in view, but does not overwhelm anyone with breaks? And what does it actually mean for politics that were made up to election day, when “modern” politics only begins afterwards?

You may find the little semantic digression a quibble, but it's important. Because it shows that the messages that politicians send out during the election campaign are by no means only made up of the factual content of their election programs. The impression that a candidate leaves on the voters is also created by more or less subtle signals. A politician who repeats the word "modern" over and over again is unconsciously associated with modernity among voters, as communication research shows - in an exciting way, even when the voter has long since seen through the phraseological nature of the term, which is often meaningless, and has proven to be analytical understands up-to-date. Which, in turn, is one reason why political phrases won't go away.

Body language also plays a bigger role than some might assume - a well-trained candidate will therefore not step up to a podium without first thinking about where to look, when to smile, how to smile and what to do with your hands should do. Angela Merkel's “diamond” has become legendary, to which she went over after initially never knowing what to do with them when they had to stand somewhere. The pressed fingertips have become her trademark - and the speaking symbol of a tentative consensus policy, as some quickly mocked. In the current election campaign, on the other hand, which ends a political era again like in 1998 with Helmut Kohl, in view of epochal challenges such as the corona and climate crisis, gestural and fearless energy is the measure of all things.