Face­book in Kur­dis­tan Elec­tion Cam­paign

So­cial me­dia found to be as the best way of mo­bi­liz­ing fel­low cam­paign­ers

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

So­cial me­dia has be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant in the pol­i­tics of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion as many can­di­dates in the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions have in­te­grated their pages and ac­counts into their cam­paigns.

So­cial me­dia has be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant in the pol­i­tics of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion as many can­di­dates in the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions have in­te­grated their pages and ac­counts into their cam­paigns.

Af­ter the In­de­pen­dent High Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IHEC) gave per­mis­sion for cam­paign­ing to be­gin in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, the dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal en­ti­ties started to cam­paign us­ing a range of tools. PUK and the Gor­ran Move­ment, for in­stance, have launched spe­cial TV chan­nels to pub­li­cize their elec­tions ac­tiv­i­ties and to pro­mote and in­tro­duce their can­di­dates.

The elec­toral reg­u­la­tions state that cam­paigns must end 48 hours be­fore the elec­tions take place.

The po­lit­i­cal par­ties are tak­ing ad­van­tage of ev­ery rel­e­vant web plat­form. The can­di­dates place a par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on the sev­eral mil­lion Face­book users, and many new pages and ac­counts have been cre­ated in the last cou­ple of weeks, each try­ing to at­tract the at­ten­tion of as many users as pos­si­ble.

Some peo­ple have be­come fed up with the nu­mer­ous po­lit­i­cal pages, posts and com­ments on Face­book. As they see it, us­ing so­cial me­dia for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses is ex­ces­sive and dam­ages so­cial re­la­tions be­tween friends.

Sh­wan Raza, 26, an ad­min­is­tra­tor at an in­ter­na­tional com­pany in Er­bil, said Face­book has lost any mean­ing in the Kur­dis­tan re­gion, since most of the subjects, com­ments and posts now re­late to pol­i­tics.

Raza be­lieves Face­book should no longer be de­scribed as a so­cial me­dia net­work, and should be re­named a po­lit­i­cal me­dia net­work in the Kur­dis­tan re­gion.

Re­baz Tofiq, an­other Face­book user, said peo­ple some­times stop watch­ing TV and turn to Face­book to get away from the in­ces­sant po­lit­i­cal news and re­ports. Of course, they are less than happy when they find Face­book has also be­come a venue for elec­tion cam­paign­ing.

Tofiq does not sub­scribe to the view that so­cial me­dia net­works should not be used for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses, although he does think ev­ery­thing should be done in mod­er­a­tion.

Mo­hammed Ka­reem, who has a mas­ter’s de­gree in In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Pol­i­tics, said “As life de­vel­ops, our way of life changes with it. So­cial me­dia net­works like Face­book, Twit­ter, Google + … etc are used a lot in elec­tion cam­paigns in many coun­tries around the world. The can­di­dates use dif­fer­ent means in or­der to at­tract as many fol­low­ers as pos­si­ble. It’s ut­terly nor­mal.”

De­spite the need for free­dom of ex­pres­sion, Ka­reem thinks there should be some cen­sor­ship of what is ex­pressed on the ac­counts and pages. “Peo­ple have to be free in what they want to ex­press, but com­ments that are con­sid­ered to have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the na­tional se­cu­rity of the re­gion and those that at­tempt to pro­voke oth­ers, should be cen­sored,” Ka­reem noted

In Ka­reem’s view, all par­ties an­tic­i­pate that Face­book will be­come an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant part of po­lit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion on­line. As more and more peo­ple use smart phones and tablets in the fu­ture, con­ven­tional me­dia such as print, TV and ra­dio are sure to lose some of their sig­nif­i­cance.

“Elec­tions are won be­cause peo­ple who are con­vinced of some­thing them­selves suc­ceed in con­vinc­ing oth­ers. So­cial me- dia are the best in­stru­ment when it comes to mo­bi­liz­ing one’s own fel­low cam­paign­ers, partly be­cause a great deal of in­ter­nal party com­mu­ni­ca­tion takes place via so­cial me­dia, out­side the con­fines of the elec­tion cam­paign,” he said.

The par­lia­men­tary elec­tions will be held across the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion on 21 Septem­ber 2013, and more than 1000 can­di­dates from 27 po­lit­i­cal par­ties and in­de­pen­dents will con­test the 111 seats in the Iraqi Kur­dis­tan Par­lia­ment.

Elec­tions on Face­book.

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