In 2008, Barack Obama chose Twitter to thank for his victory in the elections (Cristina Pereda), and in three years time Twitter has reached 220 million users, having only one million in the year 2008 (Yolanda Monge). In 2011, six Spanish candidates out of ten owned a Twitter account in the elections in May (Albert Medrán). What is the reason behind this? In Medrán’s words, if politics is dialogue, discussion, debate and conversation, there is nothing closer than Twitter; but, does all this have a real incidence in votes?
Following Albert Medrán, we could say that Twitter is a microblogging free service where conversations no longer than 140 characters long can be hold. Due to that, it has become a powerful mean of communication and politicians have started to take advantage of this tool. So Twitter can be very useful for politicians, and that is what they use microblogging for as Yolanda Monge and Albert Medrán claim.
In line with the journalist Cristina Pereda, in the case of the United States, Barack Obama has recently answered to the questions different citizenships made him through the event named Townhall in Twitter. Most of the questions were related to economy or employment, and Obama answered to them in an interview made by the Twitter director and co-funder Jack Dorsey, tweeting them afterwards in the @townhall account. It seems that the aim of this campaign is to be reelected in 2012, taking also into account that he has almost nine million followers, which is a powerful political campaign platform in Yolanda Monge‘s words. However, according to the study carried out in the Pew Centre, only 13% of those adults that have Internet use Twitter.
Coming back to Spain, the web page La Verdad Digital wrote about the debate between Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba and Mariano Rajoy. The hashtag #rajoygana became trending topic on Twitter that day, being #debate, #reiniciaeldebate or #seacaboelcirco other used hashtags during and after the discussion.
Nevertheless, candidates also use Twitter. As said, Albert Medran showed that in the elections hold in May 2011, six candidates out of 10 owned a Twitter account and 78% kept them up to date personally, 56% answered to the users by mentioning them and 60% of the candidates made their account during the year 2010. However, 26% of the accounts that were analyzed did not show new tweets in the previous 48 hours of the study. The Partido Popular is the political party that has most of the followers in Twitter (20.305), Partido Socialista Obrero Español is the second party with 10.826 followers, and the PAR (Aragón) is in third place (1.264 followers).
Congosto, Fernández and Egido agree with the statement that Twitter has become one of the most influencial propagation public sources of information in real time, due to the fact that the tweet can be read by the followers one has but also by the followers of that person’s followers without any limitations. And politicians have learnt to take that opportunity to gain votes.
In conclusion, it could be said that Twitter has become a new electoral tool, but only time will tell if it is a useful one.
- LA VERDAD DIGITAL S.L. (08.11.11 – 11:45), “Twitter da como vencedor a Rajoy frente a Rubalcaba en el debate” from http://www.laverdad.es/murcia/20111108/gente/twitter-vencedor-rajoy-rubalcaba-debate-201111081145.html. Retrieved 9/11/2011.
- CRISTINA F. PEREDA (06/07/2011), “Twitter antrevista a Obama” from http://www.elpais.com/articulo/internacional/Twitter/entrevista/Obama/elpepuint/20110706elpepuint_6/Tes. Retrieved 9/11/2011.
- YOLANDA MONGE (6/6/2011), “Obama intenta movilizar a su base electoral en Twitter” from http://www.elpais.com/articulo/internacional/Obama/intenta/movilizar/base/electoral/Twitter/elpepuint/20110706elpepuint_11/Tes. Retrieved 9/11/2011.
- REDACCIÓN (7 de julio de 2011), “Obema responde en Twitter” from http://www.voanews.com/spanish/news/usa/barack-obama-twitter-facebook-125068194.html. Rettrieved 9/11/2011.
- ALBERT MEDRÁN (17/2/2009), “Política y Twitter. Twitter y política” from http://albertmedran.com/bloc_cast/2009/02/17/politica-y-twitter-twitter-y-politica/ . Retrieved 22/3/2011. “Twitter an las elecciones autonómicas del 22 de mayo” from http://albertmedran.com/bloc_cast/2011/03/22/twitter-en-las-elecciones-autonomicas-del-22-de-mayo/. Retrieved 9/11/2011.
- LUZ CONGOSTO, M; FERNÁNDEZ M. and MORO EGIDO, E (4/11/2011): “Twitter y política: información, opinión y ¿predicción?” from http://markov.uc3m.es/~emoro/ps/evoca.pdf. Retrieved 17/11/2011