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Why Are EU MEPs So Slow To Embrace Twitter?

Europe Decides has released a new infographic looking at MEP representation on Twitter, and it seems the EU parliament has fallen behind World Leaders as a whole.

According to the study, 531 of 751 MEPs [71%] are now on Twitter, up from 408 in 2009’s parliament. That’s a rise from 56% to 71% in four years1, and almost half are tweeting every day. Although that’s an encouraging set of statistics, the participation per country varies massively. Only Sweden and Malta have ‘full houses’ of MEPs on the network, while less than two-thirds of German MEPs are on Twitter, despite having the most representatives. 91% of accounts are older than six months, showing that MEPs already knew it was important to have a presence online, and not just once they’d been elected.

So how does this compare to the world? 461 of the UK’s 650 MPs are on Twitter – also 71% [up from 414 in 2012], so all good. But according to Digital Daya, 80% of World Leaders are on the social network. While that may only be minor difference, it’s the rate at which adoption has changed that is most marked: in 2009, 56% of MEPs were on Twitter, in 2010 only 20% of World Leaders were. Why is it that the World Leaders, who started so slowly have raced to embrace digital while MEPs, who were ahead of the curve, are now lagging behind?

It’s very easy to argue that more digital options or channels don’t get anyone new engaged with politics, merely provide another platform for the vocal to soapbox from. That may be true, but it doesn’t matter. It also doesn’t matter how popular or active a politician is on any given social network. What is important is that politicians and governments recognise that digital simply provides an extra way to open up politics that can complement what’s already in place; it’s up to the people to find and engage. And as digital natives get older and become more engaged in political processes, these digital channels will soon become the primary way for people to engage.

infographic-meps-on-twitter-final-page-001

[1] There were 736 MEPs in the 2009 parliament, and 751 in 2014’s

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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