Internet, Politics, Policy (V). Campaigning: UK2010 Election

Notes from the Internet, Politics, Policy 2010: An Impact Assessment conference, organized by the Oxford Internet Institute, and held at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, UK, on September 16-17, 2010. More notes on this event: ipp2010.

Online citizen-campaigning in the UK General Election of 2010: how did citizens use new technologies to get involved?
Rachel Gibson, Institute for Social Change, University of Manchester; Marta Cantijoch, University of Manchester; Stephen Ward, University of Salford

Previous elections have shown that the Internet is only for “politics junkies”, and that e-participation has just reinforcement effects.

In news, the Internet is presented initially as a game changer, to become lately a useless tool for candidates and parties.

During the UK 2010 election, there was more people online than during previous elections, and more people went online to look for political information, both at the official and the non-official sites.

4 factors of e-participation: e-communication (info seeking, e-discussion, online videos), e-targeted activities (e-contact, e-petition, e-donation), e-formal (register, party tools, join/start election related social networking site group) and e-informal (forward, post, embed unofficial political content).

Are people engaging/participation in these four factors differently?

Age, online skills and interest in politics are amongst the more important reasons that determine the kind of online participation that a citizen is more likely to engage in. Partisanship strength also has an impact in e-targeted activities and the e-formal factor.

In general, e-communication has an impact in increasing the probability of voting amongst people not interested in politics. Notwithstanding, there is a need to disaggregate e-participation, as not all e-participation is about the same thing, as it happens offline.

Campaigns and Communications: Is the Revolution in Digital Media Changing Political Organization? An Examination of the 2010 UK Elections
Mike Jensen, Institute for Governance and Public Policy, Autonomous University of Barcelona; Nick Anstead, London School of Economics (LSE)

The Network Society has turned upside-down the boundaries of some concepts like political and non-political, places and spaces of flows, etc. How does campaigning fit in this new context?

Facebook comments and twitter messages were analyzed to see the differences between the national campaign and the local level campaign (here the case of Birmingham). And we can see big differences in what happened in Facebook and Twitter between the national and local campaigns.

Concerning horizontal communication, we can see that for some candidates, at the local level there was much more decentralization than at the national level.

Elements of decentralization and localism can both be found at the UK 2010 election. Local candidates make relatively little reference to the national campaign while, at the same time, there is evidence of the existence of horizontal links at both the national and local level.

Towards a more participatory style of election campaigning? The impact of Web 2.0 on the UK 2010 General Election
Darren G. Lilleker, Centre for Public Communication Research, Bournemouth Media School, Bournemouth University

To what extent was interactivity permitted on party websites at the 2010 election? What type of interactivity was permitted? How has permitted interactivity evolved between peace time and previous elections?

Typologies of interactivity, depending on the level of receiver control (high, low) and direction (one-way, two-way, three-way) of the communication flow: Feedback, Mutual discourse, Public discourse, Monologue, Repsondive dialogue, Controlled responses.

We can see that individuals (candidates) are usually more popular in social networking sites than parties. Uploading played a key part on interactivity, sharing creates a network effect, adding info was offered by a minority.

Different parties used different types of interactivity, ranging from monologue to public discourse. In general, though, there was a lot of two-way communication. Surprisingly enough, three parties (Lab, LDem and Green) abandoned many of their interactive features in their websites, while the others, on the contrary, increased the interactivity, a trend that has been thus in the last years. Similarly, some parties are increasingly losing control over the message.

In the UK 2010 election the Internet was mainly used to sell the party/candidate and to manage relationships, but social networks were also used (besides branding) for interaction. Supporters were contacted horizontally and more co-building was created. Notwithstanding, many partisans would share their ideas with other partisans, but not willing to do it with the party.

In general, participation was low, and people would engage elsewhere but usually in trivial if engaging ways. Notwithstanding, very active communities triggered more participation, creating a virtuous circle of high participation.

Me too for web 2.0? Patterns of online campaigning among candidates in the 2010 UK general election
Maria Laura Sudulich, University of Amsterdam; Matthew Wall, Free University Amsterdam

What is the use of the web 2.0 by candidates? How do they use Facebook? What are the elements determining the uptake of online campaigning by candidates in the UK 2010 election? Is the rationale behind launching a campaign website different from the one explaining candidates’ presence on Facebook in the UK 2010 election?

the probability of having a website (or a facebook profile page, a fan page or a group page) was calculated depending on incumbency, marginality, party affiliation, bookmakers odds / implied chance of winning, and whether opponents had a website and the number of these opponents.

A striking finding is that there seems not to be a thorough political strategy to be on Facebook,and results are very inconsistent across different possible forms of Facebook campaign presence. Marginality, notwithstanding, is very significant for both having a website and being on Facebook, as party affiliation is. Implied chance is a significant predictor of candidates websites, but not for Facebook groups; on the contrary, the “me too” factor is not a significant predictor of candidates’ websites but it is for Facebook groups.

More information


Internet, Politics, Policy 2010: An Impact Assessment (2010)