Social media is the big buzz word in the Norwegian election campaign. 2005 was the election year when the parties competed on having the coolest, flashiest website, 2009 is the year when the parties are competing about being everywhere (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Nettby, Origo, etc), communicating. We’ve seen it on TV, read about it in the newspapers, and this Friday, the Minister of Education, Bård Vegar Solhjell said on a conference (via Twitter): #Election09 might be the last where TV is more important then internet (my translation).
Still, we have to wait until September 14 to see which party manages to lure most voters to the ballot box with new digital tools.
Since TV normally is the most important medium the final weeks before an election, this it the time to keep a close eye on experimental use of social media. I’ve written about some of the tendencies before, here are some more interesting developments you should check out:
- The Liberal Party (V) has created a completely interactive website, Liberal. It is a pure social media site, where you can follow V-politicians on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and write comments. When you click to read the party’s political program, you are redirected back to the party’s official website. This site has potential, but still very few users (about 350, the site is down for updates as I’m writing this).
- The Christian Democratic Party (Krf) has launched a new website, Krf24, where you for 24 hours on June 4 could send suggestions and ideas for how the party could win the election. Pretty neat, but why not keep it open for a week? One day is way too short. The liberals had a sarcastic comment about the new project on Twitter: While #krf24 is gearing up for 24 hours, we are going for day out and day in, every week, the whole year”. Good point.
- The Norwegian online community Origo (famous for a hugely popular social calendar in Oslo called Underskog) is used by more and more political parties. The Labour Party (Ap) has Mitt Arbeiderparti with lots of local sites, modeled by Barack Obama’s online community My.BarackObama. The Centre Party (Sp), the Socialist Left (SV) have also made an appearance on Origo. This way of communicating with the voters is new and different, and also gives the voters an exciting possibility to get in touch with each other – which is just as important. Let me know if you know of any interesting local developments that have occurred within any of the parties’ Origo sites.
- Last week I wrote about how the Progressive Party (Frp) lacked the internet code (in Norwegian). This past week, I’ve seen a change in their Facebook usage (no, I’m not trying to take credit:-). They are actually answering questions on Siv Jensen’s (the party leader) Facebook site, which I think is a step in the right direction.
- The conservative party (H) has bragged about how many “door knockers” they have, in the middle of this social media craze. Even though they have a heavy presence on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the party will not abolish the good ol’ door knocking in the campaign, and have aimed to knock on 100 000 doors. They have this ambivalent relationship to how much political influence you can have online, and different representatives from the party have repeatedly talked about how important it is to actually meet and talk to people face-to-face. I think this is obvious, political influence is a combination of what is going on online and offline. The big parties with lots of resources (mainly Ap and H) are able to do both, while the smaller parties, ex. SV and V, will need to prioritize their resources much harder. V has for example made it easier to donate money online.
- New political stars will arise as the internet is a different medium than TV, print and radio. New candidates can advance in the new medium because they grasp quickly how to use if for politcial purposes. The Christian Democrats has a potential blogging star in Sondre Olsen, the Labour Party has a YouTube talent in Hadja Tadjik, the Socialist Left has a blogging/Twitter talent in Bård Vegar Solhjell, the Liberals might reach new voters through Trine Skei Grande’s Facebook site.
- Still, much can be done in order to use the new digital tools to create new politics. An excellent examples is this video “Ten Measures for Transparency Success” by Andrew Rasiej, Personal Democracy Forum/TechPresident