Analysis of political rhetoric

Rhetoric for Innovative Education

Output 2 Online Course in Rhetoric

Research module

Analysis of political rhetoric

  • Presentation of the module

  • Rhetorical analysis by 13 criteria

  • Argumentative and genre analyses

  • Analysis of political rhetoric

  • Analysis of virtual rhetoric

  • Online resources

Rhetorical and other types of debate analysis

Debates, including televised election debates, have been the subject of analysis for decades. An in-depth analysis of the electoral debate has been realized by Agnieszka Budzyńska-Daca (2015). A chronological overview of the history of televised debates in election campaigns is made, and traditions in the UK, the USA, France, Germany and Poland are presented. The innovative approach consists in bringing out the formative and meaning-oriented properties of temporal categories in the study of media discourse. The author identifies three temporal categories: the timing associated with the situation of the debate as a genre with specific communicative functions; the timing of the rhetorical strategies used by the participants in the debate; and the timing of the direct interaction between the participants. Finally, conclusions and generalizations are drawn.

  • Budzyńska-Daca, A. (2015). The rhetoric of time in the final pre-election TV debates. Rhetoric and Communications, issue 19, October, 2015,, Retrieved on 10.09.2021.

Ilia Valkov reviews the ways of organizing and conducting presidential election debates, identifies good and bad practices and formulates proposals for optimizing the process of positioning these debates in the Bulgarian public and media space in a new paradigm.

  • Вълков, И. (2021). Процеси на делегитимиране на дебатите: традиции в САЩ и проекции в България“ от колективната монография „Реториката и комуникациите през 21. век: теории, методи, практики(2021), 69-88, публикувана и онлайн в сайта на Института по реторика и комуникации,

  • Valkov, I. (2021). Processes of Delegitimizing Debate: Traditions in the United States and Projections in Bulgaria, the collective monograph Rhetoric and Communication in the 21st Century: Theories, Methods, Practices (2021), 69-88, also published online at the Institute of Rhetoric and Communication website,

An example of analysis to identify factors and national specificities of organising and conducting debates:

Violeta Ashikova presents an interesting perspective on the possibilities for analysis of parliamentary debates.

  • Ашикова, В. (2015). Реторическа аргументация в дебати по вот на недоверие в българската парламентарна практика. Теоретична рамка и инструментариум. Реторика и комуникации, бр. 19,, Retrieved on 12.09.2021.

Ashikova, V. (2015). Rhetorical argumentation in debates on votes of no confidence in Bulgarian parliamentary practice. Theoretical framework and toolkit. Rhetoric and Communications, no. 19,, Retrieved on 12.09.2021.

Vyara Genova explores through the lens of gender rhetoric the issue of gender in two spheres: media appearances and parliamentary debates in Bulgaria.

  • Генова, В. (2016). Съвременни проявления на темата за равнопоставеността на половете в парламентарната и медийната джендър реторика в България (април – май 2016 г.). Реторика и комуникации, бр. 25,, Retrieved on 12.09.2021.

Genova, V. (2016). Contemporary manifestations of the gender equality issue in parliamentary and media gender rhetoric in Bulgaria (April-May 2016). Rhetoric and Communications, No. 25,, Retrieved on 12.09.2021.

Example of analysis using basic rhetorical canons as criteria

Neo-Aristotelian method

Magdalini Lamprogeorgou in an article performs an analysis using a neo-Aristotelian method. The methodological analysis is structured according to the five principles of oratory. A comparative analysis is made of the persuasion techniques used by President Barack Obama as a speaker. A textual and contextual rhetorical analysis is implemented, and the rhetorical principles and parts of presidential speech are examined. A critical reading is made and an attempt is made to delve deeply into the speech and identify its underlying messages. Verbal and non-verbal elements of persuasion used by President Obama as a political figure are also brought out.

  • Lamprogeorgou, M. (2021). Rhetorical analysis: The example of Obama’s speech at Stavros Niarchos Foundation [SNFCC], Rhetoric and Communications, issue 48: 31-50,, Retrieved on 12.09.2021.

Analysis to derive a model

Speech analysis can also encompass criteria beyond the specifically rhetorical. Such analyses are aimed at establishing traditions and at uniqueness in a given communicative situation or event by looking for the relationship of political, communicative factors and individuality. This has been done by Maya Vassileva, who analyzed the inauguration speech during the inauguration of US President Joe Biden. She draws out the specifics of the situation, makes comparisons with inaugural addresses/speeches delivered by previous presidents and arrives at a presentation of a political communication model of this genre of presidential rhetoric in the United States. The conclusion is that inaugural address rhetoric combines verbal, visual, and virtual elements and is a model of political communication oriented toward explaining values in difficult times.

  • Vassileva, M. (2021). A Political Communication Model of the Inaugural Address Speech of President-Elect Joseph R. Biden, A Critical Discourse Analysis of Communication Context, Political Rhetoric and Argumentation. Rhetoric and Communications, issue 48, July, 2021, pp. 51-63,, Retrieved on 11.08.2021.

Maya Vassileva points to other similar analyses that are online resources.

  • Diaz, J. (2021, 01 18). Biden Is the Oldest President to Take the Oath. html. Retrieved on 12.09.2021.

  • Jones, T. (2021, 01 21). Looking Back at How the Media Covered the Inauguration of
    Joe Biden.
    back-at-how-the-media-covered-the-inauguration-of-joe-biden/. Retrieved on 12.09.2021.

  • Rattner, N. (2021, 01 20). Biden’s Inaugural Address Used the Word “Democracy” More Than Any Other President’s.
    presidents.html. Retrieved on 10.09.2021.

  • Weinberg, L. (2021, 01 21). Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton Reunite for Rare Inauguration Day Address. https://
    bush-and-bill-clinton-reunite-for-rare-inauguration-day-address. Retrieved on 10.09.2021.