Return to work (or Facebook as it's now called)

The Christmas holidays being over for some of us, we returned to work yesterday to a near empty office and lots of internal email traffic predicting the results of the Iowa caucus (most of which had been proven wrong by this morning). As we had already read the important emails on the Crackberry over Christmas lunch there was nothing left for it but to get straight back to work.

As such, we went on Facebook to check out who else was back at their desks out there in cyberfriend land. We were sadly disappointed. Not only have most taken the full two weeks off but our so-called “friends” neglected to invite us to their New Year’s Eve parties.

More uplifting in these dull post-Christmas days, Facebook also gave us our first glimpse of an advert for the European elections in 2009. Drum roll. We can kind of officially unveil that the first 2009 candidate to use social media advertising that we have seen is neither anglo-saxon nor a member of a “mainstream” party. Nope, he’s an Italian called Marcello De Vita and is a member of Newropeans. He has also set up his own Facebook group and is holding an offline meeting in mid-January back in Italy.

Newropeans is seeking to run candidates across all 27 Member States on a platform of democratising the EU and speaking about EU issues at a European election.The latter is novel, we are sure you will agree. You can find their sixteen points to achieve their aims on their website and you can join the organisation on their website or simply become a supporter by parting with a smaller sum of cash. In terms of on the ground arms and legs, they seem to be in a decent position due to their evolution from other organisations such as AEGEE, a European students organisation.

Newropeans are of course not the only potential newcomers to the European 2009 elections who are seeking to run across the continent on pan-European platform. While the Socialists seem to be leading the field among traditional parties, in mid-2007 the Swedish Pirates Party also muted a potential pan-European campaign. We have also heard mumblings from other potential newcomers on the right of the political spectrum in recent months.

All this online work is of course exciting stuff from our perspective and perhaps a cheap and potentially effective way to reach out to an internet generation in Europe on an election that most domestic media will not cover. However, one has to wonder whether success, however defined, will depend on each organisation’s ability to integrate digital with traditional political organising and campaigning. The future will tell but at the very least it is good to see some pan-European platforms being formed and that they are taking advantage of the technology that is out there.


Ralf Grahn
January 09, 2008 | 12:39 PM

One additional point: Candidates to be President of the next Commission seem to be in the offing. Even if less known than national contenders for office, I suppose that this might spark some interest.

January 09, 2008 | 10:30 AM

Jon, The point of the post was not to support Newropeans manifesto such as it is but to highlight that they are out there trying to use the internet to form a pan-European party. Indeed from a purely selfish point of view some of the Newropeans ideas don't appeal that much. For example, since we have had a tendency to moan about the treks to Strasbourg their ideas on further decentralisation of EU institutions don't make us want to rush out and vote for them. Of course, we are moderately favorable to European elections having a focus on what European parliamentarians. After all, when else is the electorate going to get as good a chance to understand what MEPs do that impacts them. As such, we applaud Newropeans' efforts. However, one wonders aside from us and the anti-Europeans whether a platform based on EU reform will have much of an attraction. Our own personal anecdotal experience from the last time around suggests that it is only when MEPs engage on issues that are personally relevant to voters that any interest is sparked. As such, focusing on what MEPs have done to improve bathing water in Skegness, ban animal testing on cosmetics and reduce PM from car exhausts on the High Street may be of more interest.

Jon Worth
January 05, 2008 | 6:58 PM

I'm surprised that you're moderately favourable towards Newropeans... Their 16 points don't look like being close to a manifesto as far as I'm concerned. As for a candidate using social networking - don't have any hope at all that he or she will come from the UK Labour Party - they are <a href="" rel="nofollow">all too old and too long in the EP</a> and won't be ready to take any risks.