[Série Images et chefs] Dominique Anglade and the limits of the power of the image


The image counts enormously in politics, even more in our hypermediatized societies obsessed with the look. This series “Images and Leaders” examines how party leaders in the electoral campaign use their representations to seduce the electorate.

Having become leader of the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) in the midst of a pandemic, Dominique Anglade suffers from an obvious lack of notoriety, all liberal strategists will agree. She has tried to remedy it in every way in the last two years, sometimes showing her more frosty side on social networks, at other times indulging in more difficult passages of her life. A strategy in line with the basics of political communication and yet nothing works. The first woman at the head of the Liberal Party could above all mark history by leading the oldest political party to its worst defeat in more than 150 years.

Having worked in public relations for nearly twenty years, Louis Aucoin sees in this the proof that a well-crafted communication strategy is not necessarily a guarantee of success. “Even if she has an extraordinary personality, if the party does not embody anything, it cannot work. We can’t just bet on the leader, ”notes the latter, who believes that the Liberal Party would perhaps be in even worse shape without Dominique Anglade.

All in all, Louis Aucoin thinks that the party has done well to put the leader in the foreground, the liberal brand being still tainted by the wear and tear of power. Calling him only by his first name in advertisements and on electoral posters is not a bad move, in his opinion, if one wants to create a feeling of closeness with the voter. But this strategy would still have to allow Dominique Anglade to stand out from his opponents.

“The problem is that we rely a lot on his empathy. We try to give her a maternal image. It would work if François Legault was considered a tyrant. But he too has a very paternal image. She is not into differentiation. It is also very difficult to differentiate yourself when you are in a party that wants to be center. Éric Duhaime and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, and even Paul St-Pierre Plamondon have a lot fewer problems,” continues the president of Tesla RP.

Dual standards?

“She really arrived in the worst timing “, admits his childhood friend Marie Sterlin, who participated in the writing of his biography. Borough councilor for Projet Montréal in the Mile-End, Marie Sterlin does not share Dominique Anglade’s political ideas, but she praises her competence and her many personal qualities.

The duty spoke in the context of this article with several people who also rubbed shoulders with Dominique Anglade before and after his jump into politics. Everyone agrees: the charisma of the politician is much more evident in private. The people who met her whom we spoke to describe a warm, funny, unifying woman, « which is less apparent on television », we admit.

At the time, the same thing was said of Pauline Marois, the only other woman, apart from the interims, to have occupied the thankless position of leader of the opposition. Do women in politics still suffer from a double standard? “She faces issues that have nothing to do with her femininity. The candidacy of women, I don’t think that’s a problem anymore. On the contrary, the parties compete to have as many women as possible in their ranks,” retorts journalist Pascale Navarro, author of two essays on women in politics.

According to her, Quebec has evolved a lot in the last ten years on this issue. With proof of the indifference to the fortune of the husband of Dominique Anglade, when for Pauline Marois, it was a major theme. “We did not go to see his house [contrairement à Pauline Marois]. We haven’t commented on her clothing, her haircut, her make-up… Maybe it happens exceptionally, but it’s not at all common. In any case, it would be inadmissible today, even for people who do not call themselves feminists, « said Pascale Navarro, who believes that Dominique Anglade would rather play the femininity card sparingly to stand out on certain issues. of the other four leaders.

First black woman

So far, Dominique Anglade does not really highlight her femininity. She also makes little mention of the fact that she is the first person from a visible minority to lead a major party in Quebec. It must be said that when she embarked on the leadership race, it is said that many within the PLQ openly doubted that French-speaking voters could vote for a black woman.

“If Barack Obama was elected in the United States, I don’t see why Dominique Anglade wouldn’t be elected in Quebec. The Montreal Liberals really look down on the French-speaking electorate, ”regrets a former party activist, who slammed the door a few months ago.

Still, some are still asking the question, seeing the Liberal Party hit rock bottom in the Francophone electorate. “In any case, Dominique has never been defined by the color of her skin. That’s not how she was raised. She doesn’t shirk when it comes to defending immigrants, but I never thought she would play on that, » says her friend Marie Sterlin, convinced that the Liberal Party’s current problems go far beyond the person. of Dominique Anglade, and even more the color of her skin.

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