44 | 27, pp. 43-62 | doxa.comunicación

julio-diciembre de 2018

Ada Colau: from activist to mayor. An analysis of Ada Colau´s Facebook ethos

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

that of Mayor”. That was the beginning of the message that Ada Colau posted on her Facebook page two hours before the beginning of the act that would make her Mayor of Barcelona.

At the beginning of May 2014, Colau announced that she was leaving the post of spokesperson for the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) and a month later, together with other social and neighbourhood movements, she launched Guanyem Barcelona, a citizen’s platform created with the aim of participating in the 2015 municipal elections. In March 2015, Colau was proclaimed head of the list of the electoral coalition known as Barcelona en Comú, which on May 24 would win the electoral victory with 25.21% of the vote.

The new mayor had to build a new identity that would make her reputation as an activist, founder and spokesperson of the PAH compatible with her new political position. Here we will analyze the ethos of Ada Colau during her first year and a half as Mayor of Barcelona, and to do so we will study the posts that appeared in her personal Facebook page during this time. Understanding ethos as the self-image that a speaker envisions in his/her speech, whether or not he or she is aware of it (Amossy, 1999, 2010, Charaudeau, 2005, Montero, 2012a), our hypothesis is that Colau’s speeches, influenced by the situation of political transition, display a complex presentation of herself after going through the tension of having two roles, that of activist and Mayor.

Social networks have brought with them a series of formats that reward brevity and the use of images that have a colloquial code and are marked by immediacy and the one-to-one effect. When political discourse joins with these predetermined formats (Qués, 2013), the enunciator and his or her ability to seduce become very important: “the policy of clips relies almost entirely on the subject’s power of persuasion and not on the discourse” (Sarlo, 2007).

In accordance with this subjectivization of politics (Slimovich, 2011, 2016), we will investigate a case in which the public presentation of the political self is central. Halfway between a consolidated activist and a beginning Mayor, Ada Colau needs to legitimize herself as a politician ‘of public institutions’, and at the same time preserve her legitimacy as a ‘street’ politician.

Next, we will introduce the notion of ethos, in order to later specify the corpus and work methodology. The results of the analysis will be divided into five sections corresponding to each type of ethos identified in Colau’s speeches. Finally, we will return to central points and propose perspectives for future research.

1.1. The notion of ethos

Barthes defined ethos as “the character traits that an orator must show the audience to make a good impression. [...] The orator enunciates information and at the same time says: This is who I am, not that other person” (1970: 212).

Although the notion comes from Aristotelian rhetoric, from the end of the 1960s to the mid-1980s, an ethos boom” (Montero, 2012a) occurred as a result of the “subjective turn” that brought attention back to the subject after the hegemony of structures, systems and ideologies (Sarlo, 2005; Arfuch, 2010). This return to ethos1, which affected all social and human sciences, occurred “in parallel with the domination of the audiovisual media”, as Maingueneau (2002) points out. According

1 Le Guern (1978); Ducrot (1986); Maingueneau (1984).