Apologia, Image Repair and Rhetoric in the Defence of Electoral Defeat

Kwabena Sarfo Sarfo-Kantankah


Using the concepts of apologia, image repair and rhetoric, this paper examines the strategies employed by a former president of the Republic of Ghana to simultaneously maintain his reputation after losing the 2016 Ghanaian general elections and campaign for re-lection as the standard bearer of his party. The paper finds that the former president did not accept responsibility for the electoral loss, but used several indirect ways to deny responsibility for the defeat. He employed bolstering, accusation/attack, playing the victim, throwing a challenge and the God’s will factor as defence strategies in order to repair his image. He exploited the Aristotelian appeals of logos, ethos and pathos to boost his persuasion. In doing so, he deployed several rhetorical tools such as metaphor, allusion, rhetorical questions and parallelism to enhance the expression of the defence strategies. The analysis reveals that, as noted in the literature, some of the image repair strategies espoused by Benoit (1995, 2015), for example, outright denial and mortification, hardly apply to political contexts – the former President’s defence was indirectly expressed. Thus, the paper concludes that combining the concepts of apologia, image repair and rhetoric in the analysis of political discourse can illuminate political discourse analysis. The paper has implications for communicating defence, reputation repair and political rhetoric.


Apologia, Image Repair, Rhetoric, Defence, Electoral Defeat

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.10n.3p.1


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