March 11, 2009

Facebook Politics go Global

U.S. President Barack Obama’s electoral success using social networking and the Internet is being mirrored in other parts of the world by candidates and nonpartisan democracy advocates.

Mauricio Funes, front runner in El Salvador’s March 15 presidential elections, has a Facebook page where his friends can keep tabs on his campaign doings and post messages of support — and where Funes himself is said to write on his followers’ walls, urging them to “vote for change.”

[Editor’s note: The Washington Post is reporting that Funes has won the Salvadoran election.]

In Chile, political candidates have sometimes had a hard time connecting with their supporters, in part because the country’s vast territory make on-the-ground campaigning difficult.

Now, The Santiago Times reports that the two major candidates for president in Chile both have Facebook pages, it is the center-right candidate, Sebastian Pinera, who is more effectively tapping into Facebook, Flickr, Fotolog, Twitter and YouTube.

Meanwhile, his center-left opponent, former President Eduardo Frei, is stepping up his digital pace with a political Facebook page that features YouTube videos of his everyday activities.

In India, however, it’s not the candidates but nonpartisan interest groups who are leading the technological charge to advance the democratic process. One such effort is voteindia.in, a website targeting India’s Internet-savvy middle class.

Agence France-Presse reported that while there is high voter turnout among impoverished and often illiterate Indians, middle and upper class Indians tend not to vote, despite their complaints about government corruption and inefficiency.

Another website, jaagore.com, has started an online campaign to get Indian youth registered to vote.

Advocates said they hope to make Indians with access to technology more aware of the candidates and the importance of voting.

“Bad politicians are chosen by good people who fail to vote,” reads the Vote India Web site.

According to AFP, in India’s 2004 elections, nearly one out of four of the 543 legislators elected to India’s lower house of parliament had criminal charges pending — including murder, kidnap and rape.

–Ronnie Lovler/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

Facebook page: Mauricio Funes (El Salvador)

Facebook page: Eduardo Frei (Chile)

Facebook page: Sebastian Pinera (Chile)

“Chilean Candidates Compete for Digital Vote”
January 30, 2009

“India Election Goes Online”
Agence France-Presse, March 9, 2009

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