Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Internet Election

The General Election (GE) earlier this year was touted as an "Internet election" as parties used it to released information and raised their profile. Online blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube; you can easily find info of the parties during the GE.

However a study by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) found that new media may not have as much an influence as many believed. The most telling of the findings is that the two least active parties online, the People's Action Party (PAP) and Workers' Party (WP), emerged with the most votes at the polls whereas the most active party online, National Solidarity Party (NSP), had a poor outing at the polls.

My view on the study is mixed.

Although I agree that the internet was not a decisive factor at the polls, I do believe that it can still be called an "Internet election". The main reason I say this due to the massive advantage the PAP has over the mainstream media. News coverage during election time via television or newspaper had extensive coverage of the PAP but had much less on the opposition. Without the internet, opposition parties would have almost no chance of delivering their message to the Singapore public.

However I do feel that studies like this are important to the political parties of Singapore. Parties should look at the study by the IPS to see what kind of online service is most suitable in reaching Singaporeans. Personally I feel that some internet activities like Twitter are useless in elections. I mean you are not going to convince anyone to vote for you in 160 characters or less so there’s no need to have so much updates on Twitter.

Studies like the one by IPS are useful as they can be used to help parties see what works and what didn’t in the last GE. With information like this, I fully expect the internet to play an even bigger part in the next GE. The internet might not be a decisive factor this round, but this is just the first time the internet played any factor in a GE. As such, I do believe you can still call the recent GE an “Internet election”.

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