E-Politics in Spain


A new generation of “digital natives politicians” are taking by assault the picture of Spanish politics since they know how to use social media to their advantage.
Politics, both Spanish and international, is being convulsed with the outbreak of social networks in their usual development. Previously, this process has affected various sectors such as commerce or industry, being the Marketing one of the areas that has more and better use of new technologies to their advantage. Now the politicians has to learn to use these new communication channels and the ones doing best are the youngest politicians, belonging to those group called “digital natives”.
The Obama’s inspiration
One of the first politicians to leverage Social Media was Barack Obama in his campaign of 2008. Up to then, the impact of election campaigns on the Internet translated into web pages purposed-built for that moment and then abandoned. Obama team went further: not only created a website and filled it with content appealing to their potential voters, also brought their Facebook page and YouTube channel, using social media as a vehicle to convey their message and, most importantly “viralizing” so that the users,  became transmitters for thecampaign ideas. We can consider that the Obama campaign was the first to realize the full potential of what the “Cluetrain manifesto” calls “conversations”, deploying a dialogue between voters and candidates.
The political e-parties

The use of the networks that has made Obama is the mirror in which many international politicians look themselves, Spanish included. In Spain, the major parties began using Social Networks the moment Obama demonstrated the strength and benefits of these tools (figure 1). The forerunner was Izquierda (@iunida) who started using Twitter in May 2008, while PSOE (@psoe) and Partido Pouplar (@ppopular) started in 2009. A second wave of parties in Twitter took place in 2010 with the inclusion of UpyD (@upyd) and EQUO (@equo), although those who have taken advantage of the potential of the social network have been the most recent groupings VOX (@vox_es) and above all Podemos (@ahorapodemos).

e-politics parties twitter
Figure 1: Time since Spanish political parties started on Twitter

This last party is the one taking best advantage of Social Networks, turning it into one of its strengths having managed to attract a large amount of followers (figure 2), getting in less than a year almost as many followers (450000) as Partido Popular (180000), PSOE (185000) and Izquierda Unida (114000) together.

Political Parties on Twitter
Figure 2: Political Parties on Twitter by followers / https://infogr.am/spanish-e-politics

We can point out three reasons for the great development of this huge development on Twitter:

  1. People in charge of developing the Social Media strategy of this party are “digital native”, very young people who can’t conceive a world without Internet as they haven’t known it and they know how to use the networks for their own good.
  2. The continuous update of their contents, tweeting an average of forty-nine messages per day. That way, their followers get a continuous flow of information all over the day (Figure 3).
  3. Out of Social Media, the TVs and papers are generating such buzz around this new party that it’s appearing on this media on a daily basis
Political Parties on Twitter
Figure 3: Political Parties on Twitter by tweets per day / https://infogr.am/spanish-e-politics
The e-politicians

All political parties rely on one (or more) visible heads and their personal Twitter accounts also attract a large number of followers. In fact, the number of followers is considered as a symbol of reputation of the individual and the political figure. On this regard, in the Spanish policy, there are two users who take gold medal (Figure 4) : on one hand the president (@marianorajoy) with around 628000 followers, on the other, with almost 700000 followers, Pablo Iglesias (@pablo_iglesias_), leader of Podemos, one of the newest political parties in Spain. The reasons behind that amount of followers may be the same we pointed when we talked about the number of people following the political party account.

Spanish Politicians on Twitter
Figure 4: Spanish Politicians on Twitter by number of followers / https://infogr.am/spanish-e-politics

It would have been logical considering that the second place on this ranking would be for the opposition leader, Pedro Sanchez (@sanchezcastejon), but he has just over 100000 followers perhaps due he has been on this role for just a few months (even though his account is active since August 2009).

The leadership contest for the largest number of followers on twitter, leads to hilarious situations such as the one at which the communication team of the President acquired numerous fake twitter accounts to balloon the number of followers and get to be more popular on Twitter than Pablo Iglesias (you can read more about it in here).

It’s funny but none of the three politicians who have been mentioned above are those with a more intense activity on Twitter, in fact, none of them exceeds the average of ten tweets per day (Figure 5).

Spanish Politicians on Twitter
Figure 5: Spanish Politicians on Twitter by Tweets per day / https://infogr.am/spanish-e-politics
Spanish Politicians on Twitter
Figure 6: Spanish Politicians on Twitter by number of tweets / https://infogr.am/spanish-e-politics

Political most active on Twitter is Toni Canto (@tonicanto1), with an average of twenty messages on the network daily, while it is true that focuses not only on his political activity but tweets and retweet on issues related to his works as an actor. Behind him, Alberto Garzón (@agarzon) publishes about 16 tweets a day, interacting significantly with several users of the network.

On the other hand, draws a lot of attention the Deputy President account (@sorayapp) which shows a pernicious trend (both politically and at a enterprise level), which is being in Social Networks just because you have to be there: Just having an account on Twitter but use it very scarcely, in this case, meaning a twit a day, most of it retweets without interacting with any other users.

Future trends

It’s obvious the role played by the Social Networks in everyday life. Most people is connected to them and use it to get their information and be in touch with people in who are interested. The newer political parties, which we can consider them “Digital natives”, are showing the older ones, consider them as “Digital migrants”, the new way to use the Networks for their own benefit, getting rid of the old propaganda manners.

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