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Why transferring Obamas campaign to Germany does not work

26. August 2009 – 13:25 by Hans Hagedorn

Expectation were high: The 2009 German Federal Election should be a real “online election” with big online campaigns, inspired by the success the Obama-campaign had had in 2008.

And indeed politicians like German chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) or the counter-candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) do have their profiles in well-known social networks: You can find their profiles on Facebook as well as on the German social networks StudiVZ and MeinVZ. Candidates´ logos and websites resemble Barrack Obamas Websites with big pictures, videos and links to other online activities (see Merkel, Steinmeier).

But does it transferring the American campaign to the German Federal Elections really work?
Micah Sifri says: No!

Sifri founded the web-portal Personal Democracy and writes for the weblog In an interview with the German web-format “Elektrischer Reporter” he says that the main problem is that the German elections are status-quo-elections rather than change elections: “In a status-quo-election, where the candidates are not exciting, the internet won´t change that.” Only when there is a desire and a real chance for political change, volunteers who can exhaust the possibilities of the internet get more important.
According to Sifrin, Obama had understood the power of these volunteers and of voter generated activity and did not concentrate on one specific tool or one specific network, but on a combination of them all. (You can view the video-interview here: . The audio is in English.)

Nevertheless some projects by civilians give an anticipation how a voter-driven activities online could look like in Germany. One of them is website “” (Wechselwähler meaning swing voter). Six swing voters moved in a shared flat where they will live until the elections. They blog about their political viewpoints and about recent news - and on each Sunday they have breakfast with a political guest. Videos of these Sunday roundtables can also be viewed on the website.

Simone Gerdesmeier, Zebralog Berlin

Technology use in the 2009 South African elections

20. April 2009 – 13:44 by Danish Technological Institute

by Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen, Danish Technological Institute

Much has been reported about the successful campaigning, fund raising and support canvassing by the 2008 Obama election campaign. Still the use of ICT to increase electoral participation, campaigning, consultation and voting is not a uniquely US phenomena. A multitude of eParticipation and eDemocracy initiatives exist. Ranging from eVoting in Estonia’s and Geneva’s national and regional elections, gender budgeting in Freiburg, consultation on local issues in Malmö to the political influence of bloggers in China or in the 2008 election crisis in Kenya. Information communication technology (ICT) in other words plays an increasingly important role in society.

As South Africans go to the polling stations on 22 April 2009, campaigning is being played out in traditional media (TV, radio, print), on the internet, on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, in text messages/sms’s with street banners and in rallies across the country.

A full 173 parties – 134 at national level plus 39 purely provincial parties – are officially registered for the 2009 elections. Of these the four main ones are (alphabetic order):

  • ANC - African National Congress and currently in power with the support, in a tripartite alliance, of the smaller South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
  • COPE – Congress of the People in 2008 by formed members of the ANC
  • DA – Democratic Alliance and currently the official opposition
  • IFP – Inkatha Freedom Party a mainly regional party centered on the province of KwaZulu-Natal

Each of the main parties makes use of ICT in some form and in variety of ways and degrees. The table below outlines the use of websites and social networks (or Web2.0 technologies). Read the rest of this entry »