Home Page
Hand Gestures
Have you ever wished that you knew what to do with your hands while speaking? Personal coaching in hand movements is now available. Guaranteed results.

» Read More

Sign up for my free newsletter!
First Name:
Last Name:

Email this page

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Valid CSS!

Election 2006 - Interpreting the Party Leaders' Hand Movements

Bookmark this page on Save This Page Digg! Add to Google

Next Article - All Articles

The study of hand movements called chirokinesics. Like any other kind of "body language", hand and finger movements can reveal some rather interesting information. Hand movements can be consciously controlled or altered, but only to a degree. In chirokinesics, two basic analyses can be made. First look at the resting hand position - This shows the individual's basic outlook at the time. Next observe the hand and finger movements, which will "highlight" different parts of the speech.

With the Canadian federal election coming in January, I will be providing an ongoing analysis of the party leaders' hand movements during their speeches and debates. (I do vote, but am not a member of any political party. As such, I will endeavor to keep these interpretations as objective and unbiased as possible.)

During the political debates, party leaders are more prone to forgetting their practiced hand movements than at any other time. This gives voters an opportunity to identify some of the leaders' hidden motivations and opinions.

The Debates:

Add your own comments or opinions on the Election 2006 message board.

January 22 - Closing Comments and Opinions

Although only the major party leaders hand movements have been included here, I have been following as much as I could of the entire election campaign, including local ridings. Here is my final analysis/opinion based on the comparison what was said to what the hands were saying.

An elected Liberal government would continue its previous course, but showing less of the arrogance and sense of entitlement. Public judgement and media attention of the repeated controversies have already tamed their collective Egos somewhat. The hand movements are no longer "larger than life".

Electing a Conservative government would be a dangerous choice. The hand gestures have shown almost no acceptance of personal responsibility or accountability for actions, yet they intend to make significant changes to social and economic issues. With a minority government, expect an angry no-confidence vote within 18 months. With a majority victory, prepare for wide-scale public protests and one of the most despised leaderships this country has seen.

An elected NDP government would be unpredictable at best. The party leaders' continued use of artificial and scripted hand gestures shows the attempt to deceive, and his few natural hand movements revealed a strong desire for personal power and attention.

Given these choices, the best option seems to be either Liberal or your local independent candidate. Regardless, think carefully before casting your vote tomorrow.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

January 16 - Campaign Speeches by Martin and Harper

(Note: One week until election day.)

Both Paul Martin and Stephen Harper showed some noteable hand gestures in today's speeches.

Stephen Harper was back to his nearly perpetual use of the extended index finger gestures. (Remember that this gesture is considered to be one of the most negative of all hand movements, and it exposes an uncontrolled Ego and lack of personal responsibility for one's own actions. When pointing with the index finger, the thumb should always be at least slightly extended.) Harper used the very negative index finger gestures when he commented that "We are pulling votes away from both the Liberals and the Bloc - That's good for Quebec and it's good for Canada".

Just as he did in the January 9 debate, Paul Martin once again used two specific hand gestures when speaking of the Conservative's proposed budget. Martin first made the same "cutting" motion with his right hand in a movement that is used to indicate a non-viable option, then a gesture (albeit scripted and rehearsed) showing the worth of "zero". The interesting part of this "zero" gesture was that his right hand was held higher than is normal, showing that this topic was almost like a prize or trophy.

Compare these leaders' hand gestures, and the alleged 22 billion dollar shortfall in Stephen Harper's budget becomes a real election issue. (With Harper's continued use of negative hand gestures, I wouldn't expect any positive changes from an elected Conservative government until the party either gets a new leader or Harper grows up and learns that his actions have consequences for others.)

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

January 10 - Leaders' Debate - French

(Note: This was the final debate before the January 23 election.)

Based on the party leaders' hand movements, the clear winner of this debate was again Paul Martin.

Paul Martin - Liberal Party -
Paul Martin's hand movements were more natural this time, and revealed that his personal motivation for being at the debate was to show (or show off) his power and leadership. He was the "alpha male".

Martin used excellent gestures when he spoke of "Option Canada". (Notice how the amount of space between fingers changes quickly with natural hand movements - Compare this with the unchanging spaces between Jack Layton's fingers.)

Martin only briefly gestured with a pen once, and this time held it between his middle and ring finger in a more positive movement than before.

The Liberal leader used the extended index finger gesture a few times, which reveals areas where his Ego tends to run amok and he needs to take more personal responsibility for his actions. This gesture came out when Martin stated "My government follows the rules", when he spoke of "How a Prime Minister should act in the USA", and on "fiscal imbalances".

Paul Martin used straightforward "group distinction" gestures as he spoke of the fiscal imbalance and mentioned "Quebec, Ontario, and the other provinces". (This certainly shows where his priorities are.)

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Jack Layton - New Democratic Party -
Jack Layton has been working hard at presenting an image of authority. In fact his hand movements showed that his personal motivation in being at the debate was that he was there to "work". (The "job" being to present a powerful image and challenge the alpha male for dominance.) Unfortunately most of his hand movements still just come across as rehearsed and phony.

On some of the overhead camera shots you could see Jack Layton's fingers twitching nervously, but no such movements were visible when his hands rose above the podium. Just another example of how scripted his gestures have been.

While Gilles Duceppe was speaking on the topic of immigrant unemployment, you could see Jack Layton rub his mustache while considering his own response. This was one of the few natural hand movements made by the NDP leader during the debate, and it could reveal that some embarassing details on this subject are being hidden.

Some natural hand movements came out on the topic of "fiscal imbalance". Layton's fingers began to twitch and tense, showing elevated nervousness on this issue.

In his closing comments, Layton stated "This is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians". (This was my exact thought on watching his obviously scripted hand movements throughout the campaign.)

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Stephen Harper - Conservative Party -
Stephen Harper would rather have been anywhere else instead of at the final debate. His only motivation in being there was because he had no choice. Through most of the debate, Harper was content to remain the beta male, while his hands alternated between weak gestures and negative ones.

The Conservative leader's quivering and unsteady hands showed heightened nervousness in this debate. Some nervousness is expected and acceptable in any uncomfortable situation (such as speaking another language). The question is how the person responds to feeling insecure. In Stephen Harper's case, his hands were quicker and more frequent in the negative extension of the index finger.

When Harper mentioned that they have "a number of steps to bring long-term accountability", his right hand made a clear sign for "zero". (Well, I suppose zero is a number.)

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Gilles Duceppe - Bloc Québécois -
Gilles Duceppe's hand movements were nowhere near as good as they were during the first French debate. His gestures revealed that his motivation for being there included hidden personal reasons.

Duceppe's hidden agenda has something to do with what he called "10,000 bureaucrats in the Department of Health". He brought his thumb and two fingers together in a gesture that shows exact precision. He used the same gesture in the previous debate when he mentioned "10,000 civil servants". (The middle of an election campaign is a poor time to say that you want to immediately cut 10,000 jobs, but there's something else that is being withheld. It makes me wonder who would get the jobs and contracts that replace these workers....)

The Bloc leader also used the negative extended index finger gesture more frequently in this debate.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

January 9 - Leaders' Debate - English

If you watch the party leaders' hand movements and gestures, the clear winner of the third debate was most definitely Paul Martin.

Paul Martin - Liberal Party -
Based on hand movements, Paul Martin dominated the entire debate right from the start. He was the only leader able to keep his hands still without his body swaying back and forth. (Remember that calm and relaxed hands show a calm and relaxed mind.)

In his opening comments, the Liberal leader made one decisive "cutting" gesture regarding a single point - Stephen Harper's proposed tax cuts. This hand gesture is used to indicate something that does not work, or is not a valid option. Because of the clear and strong gesture that was used, there is almost certainly some truth to Martin's contention that the Conservative budget would create a deficit. (Compare this with Stephen Harper's analysis below.)

Martin's hands showed thruthfulness and emotional attachment to the issue when he said "Integrety in government means honesty." This is something that he firmly believes (or at least believes that he believes...). However, both index fingers were extended when he said "I am not going to allow the integrety of government to be besmirched." Pointing both index fingers like this shows a lack of accepting personal responsibility.

This time when Martin brought up the Charter of Rights, there was no real emotional attachment. His hand movements were minimal, and rehearsed. Another scripted issue was when he said "We have to choke off the supply of handguns."

Paul Martin only gestured once with a pen in his hand this debate, but again he immediately used very negative movements. He really needs to keep his hands empty when speaking.

Perhaps the most interesting hand movement by Martin was when he spoke of his own company expanding around the world. His right index finger extended in a natural movement, showing that expanding his company worldwide is the source for some excess pride and Ego for Martin. Again a case of needing to take more personal responsibility for actions and decisions.

Jack Layton was able to noticeably agitate the Liberal leader twice. When Layton spoke of a "Specific recommendation to reinforce our health laws" and a "10 billion dollar tax cut", Paul Martin's hand briefly closed into a fist, as if suppressing the urge to physically punch the NDP leader. To his credit, Martin's closed fist gestures lasted only a moment before he recovered, showing how he is readily able to keep functioning with a clear head during times of sudden stress.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Stephen Harper - Conservative Party -
Stephen Harper's words and hands did not say the same things during this debate. He has definitely worked on controlling his gestures, but was only able to keep his index finger from pointing for the first 90 minutes of the debate. After that he was back to his nearly constant use of the negative extended index finger gesture. (Remember that pointing the index finger on its own is a sure sign of refusing to take personal responsibility for one's own actions.)

You could see Stephen Harper's body sway back and forth from trying to keep his hands more still than was natural for him at the time.

Most disturbing was when Harper spoke of "Our tax package" - His left hand ring finger began to quiver, then both index fingers were extended. This kind of gesture suggests that Harper does not really believe in his own proposed tax package, and has some fears about the long-term results.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Jack Layton - New Democratic Party -
Jack Layton's hand movements were so artificial and scripted that watching them actually gave me a headache by the end of the debate. You could see his fingers noticeably tighten in an effort to keep the hands still and firm.

Layton's hand positions and gestures have continued to evolve throughout the election campaign. One of his common resting hand position during this debate was identified by Benham more than a hundred years ago. This position with one hand forward is interpreted as "full of self-importance, impressed with his own dignity, and will quickly resent anything like an attempt a familiarity, or anything tending to show that you do not fully agree with him in his estimate of himself".

Jack Layton's hands became agitated on the issue of manditory minimum sentences for crimes, showing this to be an uncomfortable topic for the NDP leader.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Gilles Duceppe - Bloc Québécois -
Gilles Duceppe was much improved since his last English language debate, and his hand movements continued to be in agreement with his words.

Duceppe used especially clear, strong and honest hand gestures when he said "We have to look at each proposal, and make a decision in the best interests of Quebec." (Isn't this the job of a Premier, and not the Prime Minister? As a British Columbia resident and undecided voter, this position will certainly influence my decision on January 23.)

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

December 16 - Leaders' Debate - English

(Note: All of the leaders were far more controlled in their hand movements during this second debate.)

Based on hand movements, the first leaders' debate in English was a three-way tie between Paul Martin, Jack Layton, and Stephen Harper. Each leader had improved their gesturing dramatically since the French debate, but their hand movements still exposed some rather questionable details.

Paul Martin - Liberal Party -
This time Paul Martin left the pen out of his hand for most of the debate, and his gestures were back to their usual confident expressions. Unfortunately, some of the things being so confidently expressed included arrogance and evasiveness.

Early in the debate, Paul Martin's gestures made a clear (albeit obviously scripted) display that the Charter of Rights was the single issue he personally considered to be the most important for this election.

The Liberal leader made one revealing mistake when deciding on which gestures to use for this debate. When asked for specifics on the handgun bill, Martin used his right hand to form a "zero" sign. His intention was to express precise information, but that similar gesture has the thumb and middle finger lightly touching. When he mentioned "stop guns from being stolen", "work with the communities", and "that is the fundamental issue", his hands were actually saying "I have absolutely nothing specific on that issue."

Each time the subject went to the Gomery report, Martin's left thumb moved to a position just above his right. This gesture showed how the Liberal leader felt the need to protect himself and hide behind the authority of others.

Paul Martin could improve his hand movements by going back to some of his more arrogant and condescending gestures, instead of attempting ones that display integrety or open honesty. A display of power is effective if you can pull it off, and since stong arrogance is a natural part of the Liberal leader's personality, he can use gestures like "patting the head" and come across as powerful and honest. Voters may complain about arrogance and Ego, but they also know that these traits can be required in a nation's elected leader. If Paul Martin could just keep his extended index finger gestures to a minimum, his hands would display an authority that is almost unchallengeable, and his condescending gestures like "patting the head" would come across as showing patience and even affection.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Jack Layton - New Democratic Party -
Jack Layton's hand movements and gestures were very good - Too good, in fact. Such rigid hand positions are fine for a ten minute speach, but not through an entire two hour debate. He has been coached on how to use his hands, but still forgot that hand movements must appear natural in order to be believed. In a two hour debate, natural hand gestures have more movement of each individual finger than Layton used, which changes the amount of space between each finger. In other words, his excellent hand movements and gestures are reduced to coming across as just an obvious and practiced act.

His practiced gestures have a couple of flaws, as well. The interlacing of the fingertips can show "thoughtfulness" and "empathy", but his right hand needed to be above the left for this hand position to be anything positive. Worse than this was when Layton fumbled through an attempt to use his three finger gesture with the left hand - It made his "Let's not let it happen again" phrase come across as nothing more than rhetoric. He also threw in his own negative index finger pointing when he mentioned "polution is up by 24%" - His quick and sudden use of the extended index finger showed it to be a natural hand movement for him at the time, and not in any way scripted.

Jack Layton revealed that he has some knowledge of interpreting hand movements when he commented on the other leaders "picking phony battles". Layton switched his hand position back and forth between the extended index finger and his usual 3 finger gesture, while explaining how the other leaders need to examine their own track record when they are pointing their index finger. Layton was entirely correct about how to interpret this gesture, and switching between two hand positions this way is done when teaching and instructing, not when observing.

Like Paul Martin, Layton also erred while attempting a hand movement that would indicate specific and precise information. When asked about specific measures for health care, he used a very similar gesture that actually says "I have absolutely nothing on that issue".

Jack Layton used the same hand gesture as he did in the French debate when speaking of the New Democratic Party. The closed off gesture with the right hand is used to indicate the self - His hands were effectively saying "I am the NDP".

To improve his hand movements, Jack Layton needs to relax and let more of his own natural gestures show. His hand movements came across as being far too scripted and rehearsed, suggesting that he himself is only presenting a false image. By using the "powerful" hand positions less frequently, the gestures would have more impact each time they are used.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Stephen Harper - Conservative Party -
Stephen Harper showed a dramatic change in his hand movements and gestures. I highly doubt that he received any real coaching on what to do with his hands - It looks more like the result of a lot of personal growth in a very short time, and making improvements with each public appearance. His hand movements certainly weren't as scripted or rehearsed as the other party leaders, which made his gestures much more honest and easier to interpret.

An example of his honest gesturing came when Harper was asked about specific measures for health care. He replied that there are no specific answers, while his hands movements matched his words exactly. He believed what he was saying. Then came the topic of the Charter of Rights, and the Conservative leader's hand movements quickly digressed back to his past finger pointing gestures.

The opening question was about Harper's stand on homosexual rights. The conservative leader's hands moved in exasperation and puzzlement, as if saying "how many times will I have to answer the same question?".

Harper was asked where he saw Canada in 50 years, and his hands moved as if to say "I don't have any idea".

Stephen Harper's hand movements have already shown a dramatic improvement - He has come a long way since the start of his campaign, but still has much further to go. His gesturing with a pointed index finger should be gradually reduced to a maximum of twice per hour. Also, some kind of private meditation or relaxation time each day would help his hand movements slow down more, but without the finger twitching that occurred during his French debate.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Gilles Duceppe - Bloc Québécois -
The worst hand movements during the debate were those of Gilles Duceppe. The ease his hands expressed during the French debate seemed to be equally matched by awkwardness when in English.

Through most of the debate Duceppe kept his hands leaning on the podium, which conveys both hiding and a need for support.

When asked where he saw Canada in 50 years, Duceppe moved his hands to indicate a series of small categories or groups.

Gilles Duceppe's hands made it clear that he felt he did not belong at the English debate. One of the Bloc leader's strengths is that he stands up for what he believes in - Unfortunately Duceppe must not have believed he should be at the English debate, and this showed in his weak gestures.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

December 15 - First Televised Leaders' Debate (French)

(Note: This debate was the one I discussed on the December 16 episode of Breakfast Television on CityTV. Only 4 parties were represented at the debate.)

Based on hand movements, Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois was by far the winner. His practiced and controlled gestures, however, reveal that he did a great deal of prior rehearsing. When the question came up asking the leaders if they would swear to uphold their election promises, only Gilles Duceppe used hand gestures that would indicate both strength and honesty. Keeping election promises was shown to be an important personal issue for Gilles Duceppe.

Second best was Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party. Most times when he pointed his index finger (expressing Ego, authority and judgement), Jack Layton also extended his thumb and middle finger forward as well (showing forethought and acceptance of personal responsibility that accompanies such judgement). Pointing the index finger in this manner is considered an extremely strong and positive hand gesture. Concern was raised only ten minutes into the debate, however, when Jack Layton speaks of the NDP while using his right hand to indicate only the self - His gesture says "I am the NDP". When asked if he would swear to uphold election promises, his fingertips moved to become slightly interlaced with the left hand on top, exposing a lack of belief in his own ability on this issue.

The hand movements by Paul Martin of the Liberal Party were really quite terrible during this first televised debate. The Liberal leader gestured poorly whenever he held a pen - Quite the contrast from his empty-hand movements. He opened with gestures that were wide and expansive, which attempts to project an image that is "larger than life". These confident hand movements quickly digressed into repeated index finger pointing and waving. When asked if he would swear to keep his election promises, Paul Martin answered by citing 3 examples (paying down the debt, reducing wait times, and working with Quebec), each time gesturing with his index finger pointing up. This gesture says "I am important and I am powerful - Nothing else matters". Paul Martin then went on to point the index fingers of both hands forward in recrimination, as if saying "You have insulted me - Learn to keep your place".

The dubious honor of having the worst hand movements on the first televised leaders' debate goes to Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party. He has definitely put a lot of work into controlling his "hand talking", but he has reduced the frequency of his gestures more than he was able to cope with - You could see the ring and baby fingers of each hand twitch and quiver from staying too still. Stephen Harper's thumbs would contract whenever he spoke about Quebec or French voters, showing that he has completely given in on the entire issue - His hands were saying "I will do what I am told to do". At 38 minutes into the debate, Stephen Harper mentioned public health care while gesturing his hands to show wastefullness - His hands were saying "Public health care is wasteful spending".

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Opening Campaign - Early Speeches and Photo Ops

(Note: During the first 2 weeks of the federal election campaign, the Liberal, Conservative and NDP leaders seemed to receive the most media attention and air time.)

Paul Martin - Liberal Party -
Paul Martin usually kept his hands remarkably still and relaxed when discussing issues on camera, showing a naturally calm and confident state of mind. It's not an act - His hands showed him to be quite comfortable handling the media attention, with no reservations about making or influencing decisions that affect millions of people. The backs of the hands were kept most visible, showing that although calm and confident, he was still ready for (or even looking for) a fight.

When it comes to hand movements, the Liberal leader has used one gesture frequently. With his right hand horizontal and the palm facing down, he moves his hand up and down in a "patting the head" motion. This movement shows how the topic at hand is being simplified because the listener cannot understand the details. This "patting the head" gesture is what you might use with a small child who wants to do something far beyond their ability. Even with this gesture the hands and fingers were relaxed - He was calm and confident believing his knowledge of the topic far surpassed the knowledge of those he was speaking to. (Being patted on the head may be insulting, but at least it can still be done affectionately.)

Based on his hand movements, what you see is what you get with Paul Martin. The relaxed and still hands convey an honesty and strength, but mixed with a large portion of self-importance. His hands showed that wielding power and authority comes naturally to him, and he has virtually no sense of guilt or regret about any of his so-called "scandals".

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Stephen Harper - Conservative Party -
Stephen Harper has been what some might call a "hand talker" - His hands were almost constantly in motion during his speeches so far. This much movement of the hands revealed that the mind was rather unfocussed (and/or undisciplined), and the verbal communication skills were weak.

The Conservative leader used one hand movement almost exclusively. The index finger on the right hand was extended and used to point, poke and wag about. In chirokinesics, these gestures are considered to be among the most negative and destructive of all hand movements. Pointing the index finger by itself accompanies expressions of pure Ego, ambition, authority and judgement. I am shocked that with all the available speech writers and advisors, he still used this negative gesture so constantly.

Such extensive gesturing with the index finger reveals equally extensive judgemental attitudes and beliefs. People tend to focus on either problems or solutions, and what we focus on expands. Blaming others does not resolve issues. As long as problems and issues are approached simply with righteous indignation, no effective solution can be possible.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Jack Layton - New Democratic Party -
For the most part Jack Layton kept his hands fairly still, showing that his mind was able to stay focussed and on topic. The hands may have been still, but they were certainly not relaxed. His hand movements were rather practiced and less natural, revealing that he was presenting more of an image than his true self.

One tell-tale gesture was how the NDP leader rolled a pen back and forth between his first 3 fingers. This was obviously a natural hand movement for him, and the contrast showed how hard he was working to keep his hands still during the rest of his speeches.

It also seemed that Jack Layton was actively hiding his hands during his speeches. Hiding the hands is an indication of hiding information. It didn't seem to be about any single issue in particular, but regarding his party's overall election campaign. I suspect he either had something big planned for later in the campaign, or was hiding the fact that they had no plans at all.

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Jim Harris - Green Party -
Although I was only able to watch one speech by Jim Harris, he used a single gesture repeatedly. With his palms facing up and held at chest height, he would hold the first 4 fingertips together on each hand. This is a gesture that expresses deep and strong emotional attachment to an issue, while imploring the listener to agree with the speaker.

Imploring, begging, pleading, supplicating, beseeching - Call the hand gesture what you will. It does show an honest emotional attachment to the topic at hand, but also a sense of desperation and loss of hope.

Page last updated: January 22, 2006

Top of Page - Next Article - All Articles

Home - About/Contact - Ask a Question - Introduction - Layman's Guide - Handy Secrets - Articles & Reviews - eBooks - Holistic Cheirology™ - Private Readings - Corporate Events - Directory of Professionals - Handy Links - Web Awards - Advertisers - Privacy

Articles: Baby Sign Language - Dispensation of Dermatoglyphic Whorls - Finger and Knuckle Names - Fingernail Problems - The Forer Effect - Free Palm Readings - Hand Transplant Options - Healing Hands - How to Find a Qualified Palm Reader - Making Fingerprints - Palmistry Myths - The Phoenix Logo - PalmTherapy - Simian Line - more....

© Copyright 1998-2006 Red Phoenix Productions. All Rights Reserved. Written by Kenneth A. Lagerstrom