Social Networks

Infoshot: Political Representation on Twitter

It’s hard to imagine, but not along ago politicians weren’t using social media for campaigning or communicating with the people. Today it’s unlikely to see a party leader rising to the top without an online presence. But how many of the world’s politicos actually are on social media?

According to the Twiplomacy 2014 study, 83% of 193 UN member countries have a presence on Twitter, while 68% of heads of state and heads of government have personal accounts. In the EU parliament, 531 of 751 MEPs [71%] are on Twitter, up from 408 in 2009’s parliament.

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.

Here in the UK, 461 of the UK’s 650 MPs are on Twitter – also 71%. But like anywhere, some MPs are more tech savvy than others. Boris Johnson’s regular #AskBoris sessions are a great example of how politicians can use Twitter.

We’ve talked to a few politicians recently including Tim Farron, Adam Afriyie and Meg Hillier on the subject and they all agree governments need to be doing more.

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. But that’s not the point; digital simply provides an extra way to open up politics that can complement what’s already in place. And as digital natives get older and become more involved in political processes, these digital channels will soon become the primary way for people to engage.



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