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.
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