Ever since the Obama campaign ignited America thanks to its creative use of social networks and the internet, European political parties have tried to ape the success in their own general elections. The UK’s last general election in 2010 was billed as the “Internet Election”, but the effect of the internet turned out to be a bit of a damp squib compared to expectations, and in comparison to the 2008 US Presidential elections.
And now, with their own general election just ten weeks away,Spain’s main parties are looking to extract maximum advantage from the World Wide Web. Yesterday, PP spokesman Esteban Gonzalez Pons, revealed that his leader and presidential candidate Mariano Rajoy was fully prepared for a “Twitter debate” with the PSOE candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.
And this morning the PSOE themselves have launched their own internet initiative, launching a special web portal for people to communicate their “ideas, opinions, solutions and proposals”. This virtual political conference will be running from 30th September to 2nd October, and can be accessed here.
However, the political parties’ internet presence is on the whole pathetic, compared to other Western democracies. All the main parties have decent websites and tick the boxes with their Twitter pages, Facebook accounts etc, but their efforts so far have been, frankly, unimaginative.
In addition, very few elected politicians have their own personal website or blog, and there are few internet debating sites of any renown outside of those provided by the main stream media.
So although these initiatives are welcome in part of the much-needed process of bringing citizens closer to their politicians in Spain, it would be safe to assume that the internet is not going to change the course of the election in any significant way.
The first party that truly cracks the problem of engaging effectively with voters online will be set to reap the benefits