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Microblogging meets politics. The influence of communication in 140 characters on 2009 Romanian presidential election

Dorina Gutu
Carmen Holotescu
National University of Political Studies and Public Administration
Open Panel

Abstract

The Internet has become an important medium for various forms of political communication and participation in recent years. There is broad agreement that new technologies such as blogs, social networks and microblogging platforms gave citizens an unimagined ability to filter and personalize the information to which they are exposed, while at the same time dramatically increasing the amount and range of information which is available to them. In USA, Iran or Republic of Moldova, the microblogging, especially through Twitter, proved to be an efficient communication tool in the past two years. Therefore the aim of this paper is to explore whether communication in 140 characters has had any influence on the Romanian presidential elections in 2009. The paper was facilitated by the online project Elections in 140 characters developed on the microblogging platform Cirip.eu by creating at the beginning of the campaign a group dedicated to the presidential elections. Messages on this topic reflecting the debate about elections of the Romanian Internet users were sent in this group and were also imported both from Twitter and blogs. They were analyzed on three coordinates according to Jungherr’s (2010) recommendations: community, communication and conversation. Despite the limited impact, the authors believe that if used effectively, microblogging has the potential to do more than facilitate interaction of users or between users and candidates.