26 November 2007

Social Media and the Australian Elections

The political junkie in me spent a bit of time over the weekend looking at the results of the Australian federal elections, where the government to a step to the center-left and chose Kevin Rudd's Labor Party after an 11-year period under the control of John Howard's center-right Liberal Democrats.

I thought the elections were striking in that the Australian economy is actually fairly sound right now, though interest rates have been creeping up. Voters were apparently concerned about issues in which the government seemed entrenched against popular opinion - the war in Iraq, action in addressing climate change, and most importantly, a very controversial workplace relations law called "WorkChoices."

ABC News (That's Australian, not American) has a really insightful page that tries to outline the role social media played in the election, complete with its winners & losers:

Rudd's presence across websites, social networking sites and banner ads was always under the sign of "Kevin07", and it was useful in painting him as the modern candidate of the future. With the Libs effectively abandoning the net as a campaigning space, it will be interesting to see how many votes Rudd's picked up among those most likely to access political information online.

Australia's political blogosphere is particularly robust, from Lavartus Prodeo on the left to Tim Blair on the right. Oz Politics has been a great resource, and Senator Andrew Bartlett's blog is an informative and entertaining example of what a politician can do when he has a good sense of humor and very little fear.

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