Social Networks

'Politicized' Tech Plants Firm Roots in Europe

Today, most politicians assemble digital teams to manage their online spin doctoring, but the waves and impact of this manipulation varies from country to country. Contador Harrison, Software Director at Somocon Oy, discusses the effect of ‘politicized’ technology, from Machiavellian meddling to necessary PR, and the effect of this across Europe.

Databases, social media platforms like Google+, Facebook and Twitter, call centers, and other ways of engaging the public are increasingly being ‘politicized’ by governments and their opponents  who want to have a campaign edge over their competitors. Just like in other parts of the world, political parties in Europe that have been in power for a long time fear losing their grip on power. The world’s most prominent political parties that loathe change include, among others, the LDP in Japan, the KMT in Taiwan and the Congress Party in India.

There has been a post-election tendency in these countries for the triumphant side to amplify their victories and for losers to find convenient excuses for their electoral loss. On top of this, political parties that have governed for years without interruption in Europe are well known for their arrogance, corruption, cronyism and nepotism. And because many of them are increasingly becoming unnoticeable among their followers, they are resorting to ‘politicising’ technology which is a clear indication of deeply-rooted corruption that is taking shape in Western and northern Europe.

According to the father of modern day politics Niccolo Machiavelli, political deceptions are mostly a passing phenomenon. A political scientist I spoke to informed me that ‘politicized’ technology is what makes soft authoritarian states softer, though most are likely to prefer total authoritarianism to govern.  He added that ‘politicicized’ technology could equally be applied in declining democracies where there is a huge demand for its use. Nervous regimes in Europe like Ukraine, Belarus, Hungary and Bulgaria tend to limit democracy rather than encourage it. ‘Politicized’ technology is, therefore, likely to remain a feature of post-economic recession. In the foreseeable future, politics in countries like Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Italy and Portugal will be the melting pots of ‘politicized’ technology in continental Europe, having replaced the Baltic States.

Many European countries governed by coalition governments have lost golden opportunities to reform their countries due to competing selfish interests among ruling parties. ‘Politicized’ technology has, therefore, come in handy for those who are drunk on power. They deploy human machinery that develops and manages websites for their campaigns and their affiliate political organizations, and have highly-skilled programmers and designers who design networks and mobile technologies, among other political campaign products.

Political techies are involved in the campaigns directly, and in their absence or inefficiency, many political parties suffer; others end up having to form government with the humiliation of having lost the popular vote, like in the United Kingdom elections where David Cameron’s Conservative party was forced to form a coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party led by Nick Clegg.

Angela Merkel, who is facing a tight election in the next few months, has assembled a political campaign team that is responsible for a groundbreaking digital campaign in readiness for the election. According to a friend who is part of the team, the team that has been assembled has, among others, a digital strategist, a director of digital rapid response operations, a head of digital video and a director of digital products who will manage the development of new technology focused on innovation in mobile and social media platforms. The team is expected to drive Merkel’s supporters to become part of the political process through mobile, social media and web in the run up to the electoral process expected in six months’ time.

Without recognizing the brand of “clean democracy” wiped out by ‘politicized’ tech and widespread concentration of wealth among the economic elite as it was in Italy, the arrogance of thought and action among the rank-and-file in Portugal, and Greece’s dearth of talented politicians in its ranks, Europe is slowly becoming like Russia and former Soviet states. This new trend has led to a “state of revival” among the old political parties across the continent. However, without the aid of “political techies” they would face a free fall and their share of the popular vote will keep dwindling.

In my research, I have come to a conclusion that ‘politicized’ technology has created an over-control in Europe leading to the elimination of traditional politics out of the political system and resulting in political monsters that know all too well how to escape the confines of control like in Georgia and Moldova.


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