Today, Catalonia will decide who is to be the president for the next four years. The election campaign officially started on 16 October, but as usual, the Internet got there first: weeks earlier the different Catalan political groups had already prepared their campaign web-pages and many of the candidates and party members were already engaged in feverish activity.
Here at Multiplica, we analysed the web-pages of the parties with representatives in parliament, using 97 variables which describe the potential of a party’s web-page to persuade voters see complete study (in Catalan)) and only CiU passed the test and, even then, barely scraped through. The marks (over 10) were as follows: CIU (5.89),PSC (4.91),ERC (4.16),ICV (3.58) i PPC (2.78).
There are five things which show how superficial the use that the political parties made of the Internet has been:
- All the political parties chose campaign websites without a long-term strategy which would really mobilise their militants towards the Net.
- Not one political party knows how to create a clearly-persuasive discourse, focused on the more indecisive voters.
- None of the political parties has an online presence which goes beyond the web-page and a few brand banners which fail to generate traffic.
- They all document the campaign on the web-site, but they never give any important breaking news. The web-page is never a central presence in the campaign.
- They do not expect their sympathisers and voters to take a clear and active part.
They need to go a step further to take advantage of all the opportunities that the Internet has to offer. The efforts at persuasion, in an election campaign, should be directed mainly at two specific segments of voters:
- Disloyal voters. They can come down on the side of any option. In turn, these are divided into two different profiles:
- Indecisive voters who find it hard to make a decision. They need the persuasive information given out during the campaign to come down on the side of one party or another.
- Indifferent voters who are not thinking of voting. The message for them should contain arguments which will galvanise them into voting.
- Sympathisers. They have already decided which way they are going to vote. The objective of the campaigns is to strengthen the conviction of this section and, at the same time, to attempt to mobilise them and get them to drum up support and more votes, because they can carry the party’s election discourse to sectors which it would be more difficult to reach: friends, family members, etc.
The proposals which are supposed to mobilise the sympathisers are fairly timid and we did not find a single case of a clear attitude to persuade the indecisive voter clearly and convincingly. The web-pages of the political parties should place the voter who has not yet made a decision at the centre of their efforts and create an experience to get his or her vote and to do so by concentrating on what worries the people, with plenty of content, making it clear why they want to be the party in power and what makes them different from the rest of the political parties, with a friendly, positive and empathic language, with stories about the well-known people both in- and outside the party, showing who is to be in the government team, using video-streams as a clear vehicle for communication, with discourse aimed at specific segments, with well-worked rational and impassioned arguments, with an easily-digested electoral campaign and an explicit call to vote in favour of the party in question on 1 November.