Election 2010: the first internet election?

Posted on March 15, 2010

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With the general election fast approaching, the debate continues to rage over what influence, if any, the internet will have on the way it is contested and the outcome. The Fabian Society’s Nick Anstead thinks the influence will be limited, and it is an opinion I find myself agreeing with.

Certainly the mechanics of the election process will be altered by the web. As Matthew McGregor of Blue State Digital noted at a recent event at City University, blogs and tweets will shorten the news cycle, allowing politicians to “bypass mainstream media completely and talk direct to constituents”. This was evident with Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in the US. Blogger Rupa Huq agrees that new media has made the phrase “a week is a long time in politics” sound outdated.

Yet the consensus seemed to be, as McGregor himself said, that “what clearly elections are decided by is the issues. The reality is that tweets can’t win elections, people win elections”. The BBC’s Nick Robinson seemed particularly perplexed by the anarchy of the blogosphere. Politics hasn’t yet reconciled itself with the internet, and like journalists, does not quite know yet how to make the most of it.

The technological revolution can and will play a huge role in politics. But, contrary to what some have suggested, 2010 may not prove to be the year.

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Posted in: Media, Politics