Political irony is a sense of oppositeness or contrast in speech or writing that is related to politics. The definition of irony varies a bit; a primary definition is the use of words to convey their opposite meaning. In general, political irony falls into a category related to a secondary definition of irony, where the word is used to describe an outcome that is contradictory to what is expected. Most often, this form of irony seeks to point out contradictions in politics in a wry or amusing way.
Modern speakers and writers use the phrase “political irony” in a variety of ways. Many of these involve satirical or witty analysis of current politics. Political irony is usually related to humor; many expressions of politically ironic speech or writing are intended to entertain through pointing out contradictions in the political landscape. Despite the entertainment value, there are many instances where a real criticism of politics is couched in ironic comedy.
One type of political irony is the criticism of political candidates for reversals on issues, or actions that go counter to what they have expressed in the past. For example, a politician who runs against another politician in one race, but supports him in another race might be targeted by those using political irony and satire. A politician who runs against the same type of program that she has previously set up in another role may also see herself targeted by those using ironic commentary to express criticism.
Other expressions of politically ironic speech evaluate the overall political feelings of the current time. Satirical commentators may use political irony to criticize the way parts of an electorate respond to certain issues. These kinds of writers may also use the same ideas in criticizing a presidential administration, a parliament, or other form of leadership.
The phrase political irony is used freely in the media. It has been the title of blogs and social media pages, as well as a category in various web periodicals. It usually represents a lighter take on political issues or events. Some pundits might also use this rhetorical strategy in writing syndicated columns for magazines or newspapers. Besides being a common use of rhetoric in text, this sort of irony is often seen in political cartoons. Sometimes it is more chiding or humorous, and other times it can be quite hostile.