This Singaporean General Election is a test case for electoral campaign’s in the virtual world, as Singapore is one of the most wired to the global information grid. Over the last month, the internet has been the playing ground for potential candidates for the May 7th General Elections. The Social Media platforms like Twitter and Facebook has been the pseudo rally sites for political parties for canvassing 2.2 million voters for 87 seats. Individual candidates have put up their campaign websites and a dedicated social media strategy has been implemented for a nation with more web enabled phones and devices than actual residents. One of the opposition candidates Dr. James Gomez of the Singapore Democratic Party commented – “The fact that people are reaching out directly to us online – now, this is the reality of electoral politics. This time round, Mr Khaw and his team are living in the relic – they’re relics of the past.” (http://blogs.todayonline.com/singaporevotes/2011/04/29/health-minister-a-relic-sdps-james-gomez/)
There are dedicated Facebook fan pages and twitter accounts of political parities and candidates disseminating data on the 24/7 cycle. The National Solidarity Candidate Nicole Seah at the Marine Parade GRC has got 22,000 plus likes on her Facebook Page. Foreign Minister and Al Juneid GRC PAP Candidate has a very effective online campaign going. Along with traditional campaigning tactics like house and food court visits and rally speeches, Web 2.0 is a force multiplier is terms of canvassing in this polls. This General Election demonstrates the power of the internet in force for digitalized democracy after the 2008 presidential campaign of Barrack Obama. You Tube videos are making a splash for good and bad reasons as informed followers of this election are aware.
In India, in the recently conducted state polls in West Bengal, Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia helped design the digital campaign on behalf on the Trinamool Congress along with two IIM Calcutta MBA Interns. The traditional media is also following the New Media trail. Straits Times and The Today Newspapers have dedicated platforms for the General Elections, which trigger sales of their hard copy editions the next day. Purely web based news outlets such as the Temasek Review and the Online Citizen are the main sources of opposition related news. Opinionated blog writers make up the holistic news scape online.
The personal touch in an election campaign with face to face interaction, campaigning from loud speakers and posters strung from light poles and outside MRT’s and Bus Terminals are what make elections colorfully vibrant, this color is now taking on an online avatar now!