Political parties are digital followers not leaders
Behind the Digital Campaign, a new report from the Hansard Society published today, examines the work done by the political parties' digital teams in the build up to the 2010 election. It demonstrates how their strategies have been influenced by digital campaigns in other countries and outlines the development of the ‘perpetual campaign'. It concludes that while the internet unlikely to lead to dramatic changes in the electoral landscape in this election, there are some noteworthy aspects to the general election digital campaign:
* UK political parties are largely followers not innovators
* Digital media is more effective in personality-led campaigns than party-led campaigns
* Expenditure and experimentation during the pre-election period has led to the ‘perpetual campaign' building communities of supporters to mobilise during the election period
* Third-party and single-issue digital campaigns are more likely to increase political participation and knowledge
* Social networking tools influence political activists, insiders and the media - stories generated on blogs and Twitter generally only reach the public when mainstream media take them up
Behind the Digital Campaign tracked online activity in the UK European elections, London Mayoral elections and a series of by-elections in 2008/09 as well as monitoring international online activity in seven case studies. In addition, online party strategists and activist were interviewed well before the start of the 2010 election, to examine the build up to the digital campaign.
Freddy Fallon, researcher on the Hansard Society's Digital Democracy programme and joint author of Behind the Digital Campaign, commented: ‘Whilst the internet will play more of a role than in previous elections, the stories that will be picked up by the media will, for the most part, be prominent because they are occurring online rather than simply because of their content. It is likely that the most meaningful examples of engagement online during this election will occur through single-issue campaigns and other third parties, rather than through the parties themselves.'
For further information, contact Virginia Gibbons, Head of Communications at the Hansard Society on 020 7438 1225, 07812 765 552 or email@example.com
- The Hansard Society is the UK's leading independent, non-partisan political research and education charity.
- The Hansard Society Digital Democracy Programme's thought-leading research has been a formative part of an emergent digital Britain from the internet's impact on Parliament, to better government engagement with citizens and the potential for civil society to harness digital media. The Digital Democracy Programme undertakes research and produces publications and commentaries with a focus on online political communication and citizen engagement, exploring the many faces of digital inclusion, citizen engagement, political campaigning and parliamentary process.