Political apologies

We understand that people make mistakes, intentionally or unintentionally, but what makes the situation interesting is the way they response to their mistakes and make apologies (or not), with their full attention and intention. The cases become especially interesting in the political field, where politicians are under the influence of both their authentic personality and feelings and their given status and power. By searching through BBC news about “politician”, “apology”, I find three cases regarding apologies given by politician Mr. Llwyd, Peter Robinson and Julius Malema that present different but similar political reactions.

Plaid’s parliamentary leader Mr Llwyd was accused of not telling Peter Hain his intention to name him in Parliament. Although he explicitly expressed his regret by saying “sincerely apologize”, Llwyd only indirectly acknowledged his fault as “I did not make this clear”. He repeatedly emphasized his lack of bad intent as “inadvertently misleading”, and even vindicated himself by pointing out that his personal assistant had called Mr Hain’s office and was told that he was away.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/4761523.stm

Peter Robinson was accused of his comments on Muslim.  After a private meeting with the Muslim leader to solve the problem, Robinson understated the situation by describing the meeting, publicly over the media, as “a very useful, valuable, friendly and relaxed meeting”. His apologies were very indirect, like “the last thing I would ever have in my mind would be to cause hurt to anyone and if anyone interpreted them that way of course I would apologize”, as if shifting the responsibility to those who misinterpreted his words and stating that he wasn’t to blame, also presented by his describing the meeting as a chance to “put in context his views”, which seems to be justifying himself. He further vindicated himself as being offended by saying that “I would be hurt if any of them felt that I was showing any disrespect for them or was not supportive of them”.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-27620406

The south African Politician, Julius Malema was accused of bring ANC apart by criticizing President Jacob Zuma. He apologized “unconditionally”: “I accept that as a leader of the ANC and of the ANC Youth League my conduct and public utterances should at all times reflect respect and restraint”. To some degree, he apologized more directly than the two politicians mentioned above. However, he still didn’t admitted his doing wrong but instead indicated his mistake by stating what he was supposed to do.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8676426.stm

In general, the three politician act in a somewhat similar way, in which their social status and public images have a greater influence than their cultural backgrounds. They tend to make apologies in an indirect way, avoiding the straight acknowledgement of their making mistakes. Besides, they justify themselves by stating lack of intention and by giving explanations for their behaviors or even excuses.

About Ziwei Chen

Ziwei Chen is a first-year Bucknellian under an undeclared major but with an interest in sociology. She comes from Beijing, China and speaks Chinese and English.
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