Posts filed under ‘European elections’

It’s air quality, stupid.

November 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment

21% of MEPs use twitter – according to us and someone else

Twitter
Image via Wikipedia

Counting the number of MEPs that use online tools to communicate is not a bad way to start your company’s blog and attract traffic. We should know as our post that claimed that 11% of MEPs blog is still one of our most visited posts to this day. E-marketing newcomers Digimahti have followed our lead and list 115 157 tweeting MEPs. Not an insignificant number I am sure you’ll agree.

At 21% of the total members of Parliament,  it’s exactly the same percentage that our MEP digital survey suggested used Twitter when we polled them in May this year! Digimahti of course notes that ‘using’ Twitter and having a Twitter account are very different. Our digital survey suggested that only 13% use it ‘regularly’, while 8% use it ‘occasionally’.

We’ll be looking to run our digital survey again next year with the new Parliament to see if that number improves.

James

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November 3, 2009 at 11:59 am 4 comments

Frustrating start for Sweden’s presidency

LISBON TREATY POSTERS
Image by infomatique via Flickr

What a frustrating time this must be for Sweden’s EU presidency! Stockholm’s ambitious plans to demonstrate its dynamic management of the Union are becalmed. Two days after confirming the Council’s candidacy of Barroso, prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt was obliged to announce that the European Parliament had postponed until mid-September its vote on renewing the Commission president’s mandate. Urgent decisions relating to climate change and the economic crisis could well be delayed. No institutional navel-gazing was the Swedish promise, but it’s not turning out like that.

To make matters more complicated, all institutional matters must await the outcome of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty, now scheduled for October 2. “There is no plan B” commented Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt on the possibility of an Irish “no” vote.

All this delay must be especially galling for Bildt, a quintessential man of action who relishes the international stage – and one of the candidates for Lisbon’s new job as Council president.

Still, a pattern is beginning to emerge. On Bastille Day former Polish prime minister Jerzy Buzek is expected to be elected president of the Parliament for the next 2 ½ years on the understanding that the Socialist group will take over for the second half of the five year mandate in the person of Martin Schulz. ALDE’s Graham Watson has withdrawn his candidacy in return for an enquiry into the financial services crisis to be chaired by German liberal Wolf Klinz.

It now seems likely that this package will ensure EPP, Socialist, ALDE and Conservative support for Barroso in September, although the greens and others will seek a further postponement.

The MEPs are keeping up the pressure on Barroso: he must set out his own policy objectives to the Parliament in advance of the EP vote.

However, I see that Barroso is planning to use his spare time between now and mid-September to campaign for a “yes” vote in Ireland. Jerzy Buzek is also planning to go there. This is surely in marked contrast to the previous referendum, when foreign politicians were asked to stay away. The point will no doubt be made that without approval of the Lisbon Treaty, the Nice rules will apply, depriving Ireland of a commissioner, maybe for five years in every 15.

Back in the Parliament, chairs of the committees are being allocated. The Conservatives – that’s to say European Conservatives and Reformists – will be pleased that Malcolm Harbour is slotted to take over as chair of the Internal Market Committee. Harbour is much respected by the Commission, in particular because of the role he played in piloting the services directive through Parliament.

I reckon Harbour is someone in touch with the real world. Having just got a new mobile phone and yet another charger to add to my collection I’m glad to see his involvement in a voluntary scheme for setting a standard for these devices so you don’t get a new charger every time you have a new phone. Practical measures like that are especially welcome in the midst of all this institutional power play, or navel-gazing as they call it.

Michael Berendt

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July 13, 2009 at 9:57 am 2 comments

Elections à la polonaise

Europe is doomed. Seriously. It must be, after all, Mr. (Jarosław) Kaczynski, our former PM, famous for having an identical twin and starring in a movie ages ago, seems to think so.  “Why doomed?” one might ask. Well, the reason is simple: Europe can be strong only if it is a Christian union and the problem, according to Mr Kaczynski, is that today it is anti-Christian and, more specifically, anti-Catholic. 

It was somehow obvious that religion would sooner or later dominate the Polish debate. Funny, however, that Mr. Kaczynski’s belief in the central importance of Catholicism didn’t stop his Law and Justice party from entering into an agreement with the UK’s Tories (who as far as I know are far from Catholic) and the Czech ODS . As for the Czech, may I please quote Wikipedia on this? (I know, I know, not the most reliable of sources but indulge me…) “The Czech Republic, along with Estonia, has one of the least religious populations in all of Europe. According to the 2001 census, 59% of the country is agnostic, atheist, a non-believer or a non-organized believer, 26.8% is Roman Catholic and 2.5% is Protestant. According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll in 2005, 19% of Czech citizens responded that “they believe there is a god” (the second lowest rate among European Union countries after Estonia with 16%), whereas 50% answered that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force” and 30% said that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god or life force”.” Good luck in building the Christian Union Mr. Kaczynski!

On another note – after two (according to the media – very profitable) speeches that Mr. Wałęsa did for the Irish Libertas party, there will be no more. The party tops apparently don’t want to risk having him encourage the Irish to vote FOR the Lisbon Treaty as Mr. Wałęsa promised to do in his May 24 interview with AFP.

And lastly – some Polish politicians have discovered Twitter. The two most notorious Law and Justice spin-doctors have been busy attacking the opposition on the microblogging site. As Gazeta Wyborcza, the biggest Polish daily (rather to the left of the most other media and decidedly liberal) informs us, four out of seven tweets by Mr. Bielan (MEP) and Mr. Kamiński were ridiculing their opponents. And how many tweets have they posted presenting the Law and Justice’s policy program? Zero.

Jay

June 5, 2009 at 11:17 am 1 comment

Tipping Over

A while ago tipping points were all the rage. Malcolm Gladwell’s book had captured the public imagination and points were to be seen tipping all over the place. I was reminded of this when I saw in our recent survey  that 24% of MEPs write a blog. My first reaction was, is that all? Here is an ideal way of reaching out to the European citizen, particularly the young, the majority of whom are not going to bother voting in the forthcoming election. Here is a way of personalizing the seemingly impersonal European Parliament and of bridging the democratic deficit. Why would an MEP not do a blog?

I suspect the answer to this is more apathy than antipathy, but I also expect the elections to be a digital tipping point. The world of politics was galvanized by Obama’s use of social media in his winning campaign and many of the new MEPs will have used similar techniques as they sought election. They will understand the technology, appreciate its ease of use, and be comfortably in the posting rhythm. Politicians are herd animals at heart and it won’t take long for an MEP not blogging (or tweeting) to be considered a digi-dinosaur. And nobody would want that.

Nick A

May 29, 2009 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment

Ahh Italians!

“Ahh Italians!” This is the most common comment that I get when I talk about the European election in Italy with friends and colleagues.

But what do they actually mean by stressing this plural noun, “Italians”?

It seems almost that all the Italian national political habits and stereotypes can be summed up in one word; at least this is the common feeling here in Brussels.

In that “Ahh Italians” there are all the things people in Europe expect to be typical features of Italian politics: opaqueness, confusion, easy shifting alliances, unreliability, and instablity. People take them as normal, as a matter of fact. Therefore…”ahh Italians”!

Is it really like that? Is Italian politics so difficult to understand for non-nationals? Well, we must confess that sometimes it is even difficult for us Italians!

Nevertheless the forthcoming election might change something in the way Italian politics is perceived in Europe…as far as confusion and instability are concerned. In fact, when it comes to the candidates of the different parties the issue has been used, in Italy and in Europe, to add a different stereotype to that “ahh Italians”. I want to leave this issue out my post because I think it is not correct to deliver judgments a priori.

Let’s instead focus on confusion and instability. Since the last political election in 2008 the Italian political spectrum has achieved a sort of bi-polar maturity with the consolidation of both a center-right and a center-left party: Il popolo della Liberta’ (PdL) led by Berlusconi, and il Partito Democratico (PD) led now by Dario Franceschini after Walter Veltroni’s resignation.

Just three other major parties gained seats in the Italian Parliament: Lega Nord, Italia dei Valori, and Unione di Centro. The left wing (communists and greens) went through a historical defeat without gaining any seat in the two branches of the Parliament.

This situation is likely to be reiterated in the next European election. According to polls Berlusconi and his party (PdL) should take more than 40% of votes and the PD around 30%. The rest will be distributed amongst the other parties which have also gained seats during the last political election. The polls foresee another exclusion of the left wing which should not be able to pass the 4% threshold provided by the new electoral law. However, prevision can also be denied and the left wing could have some more chances to reach the threshold in a situation where the turnout is consider being really low.

Moreover the PdL is likely to become the first or the second most representative party in the EP, and Berlusconi is working hard to win the EP Presidency for Mario Mauro, current MEP. On the other hand the new PD representation in the PES will be joined by former ALDE Italian MEPs as result of what happened at national level with the creation of the PD itself. Thus the Italian representation in the EP center-left wing will grow too (voices in the PES suggested even a change of the party’s name to welcome the former ALDE representation).

The conclusion is that the Italian representation in the EP as whole will be distributed more between the two biggest European parties. This distribution reflects a national one.

Hopefully now the situation is less confusing for everybody.

Michele

May 19, 2009 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

Social in Sweden? Yes, if it is social media.

In Sweden it’s also interesting to note the proliferation of the use of social media. All main candidates, irrespective of their political belonging, are using blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to interact with potential voters on the Internet. The US presidential election campaign in 2008 is a source of inspiration and  all Swedish candidates are eager to imitate Obama’s success in campaigning through social media.

Swedish MEPs’ willingness to embrace digital communication channels is a factor well worth bearing in mind for anyone wanting to engage with these MEPs in the next European Parliament. More about these trends soon in an FH report about how MEPs use digital tools.

— Magnus

May 15, 2009 at 4:21 pm 1 comment

Illegal downloading ignites spark in Swedish election campaign

Until a few weeks ago the Swedish Piracy Party was unknown among most Swedish voters. Likewise few Swedes were aware of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. The Pirate Bay verdict and the Telecoms Package changed all that.

On 14 April the founders of Pirate Bay, an internet file-sharing service, were sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay about 3 million euros in damages to entertainment companies for having violated copyright law. The verdict led to massive mobilization among Pirate Bay supporters in Sweden and elsewhere, claiming that the verdict was a declaration of war on a whole generation.

A few weeks later a mobilization on a similar scale took place ahead of the European Parliament’s second plenary vote on the Telecoms Package. Named in Swedish newspapers as ‘The battle about Internet’s future’, Brussels’ plan to cut off illegal downloaders from the internet (or 3 strikes and you’re out)  caused outcry among Pirate Bay supporters, Swedish politicians and open citizens rights groups. All of sudden the EU was hugging the media limelight in Sweden.

This combination of events played in to the hands of the Swedish Piracy Party.  From having had less than 1% support from Swedish voters, current estimates are that the party will get a seat in the next European Parliament, perhaps even two! More importantly the debate about illegal downloading and the future of the internet has been acting as a catalyst, raising the interest of the European parliamentary elections among ordinary Swedes. It remains to be seen if this interest will still be there on election day!

May 15, 2009 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

2009: A European Odyssey (into French online media)

French Europhiles always complain that the media never report anything (positive) about the European Union. In Le Point this week, the Chief Editor argues that ” it is a well-known fact in press circles: put the word ‘Europe’ on first page or on a TV debate and you will only make readers and viewers change page or channel”.

It tends to be true most of the time. Of course, you can read once a month about Sarkozy’s reactions to the last European Council or about ‘Brussels’ ruining the business of French fishermen or farmers. But you will find it difficult to read any quality article about the Telecoms Package or the Energy liberalisation Package, although both sets of measures contain real improvements for French consumers.

However, I found out recently that the online media coverage of the European elections campaign is quite interesting. The debate even tries to go beyond Franco-French issues. I’ve read good – and sometimes funny – things about Libertas in Ireland, Berlusconi’s choices of candidates and details on the status of the campaign in several Member States.

The Internet is blooming with articles on the EU: Le Figaro has a specific ‘European elections’ section, Le Monde provides readers with lots of interesting portfolios and interactive maps. Libération gives original points of view through a specific blog on European elections and Quatremer’s famous Coulisses de Bruxelles.

Even political parties are very active on the Internet to provide attractive information. UMP and PS both have specific websites dedicated to European elections. Although I am sceptical about their slogan – “When Europe wants, Europe can”- the UMP website features a ‘Europe TV 2009’ which is quite nice and easy to navigate. Although less visually attractive, the PS website gives a lot of background information on the Socialist programme and features a list of relevant Twitter feeds.

A good starting point to navigate all these websites could be the newly updated map of ‘the European web’ set up by Touteleurope. It is quite an impressive map that registers 2046 French websites and blogs dealing with EU issues on a regular basis.

For once, no citizen will be able to argue that he was not well informed… A question remains: will it change anything to the fact that the French have always used the European elections to sanction the government in power?

Clara

May 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm 1 comment

What did Pottering really say?

Pottering’s calm voice may be able to hide his emotions, but we found a nifty digital tool to unmask his true sentiments.

Wordle creates “beautiful word clouds” (their words, not ours) based on a text or website that one inputs. It identifies the most often-used words and makes them larger to show their repetition.

What did Pottering talk to the European Parliament about?

Parliamentarians favourite conversation topic

Parliamentarian's favourite conversation topic.

Public Affairs 2.0 should also face up to it’s own obsession. We clearly like the European Parliament as much as Mr Pottering, but the words ‘European’, ‘digital’, ‘public affairs’ are about the same size as Fleishman-Hillard.

FH talks about MEPs, European, Parliament and FH

FH talks about MEPs, European, Parliament and FH

European Parliament, digital and public affairs will get another tick in the word count next week when we publish a report on the use of digital tools by MEPs.

May 7, 2009 at 7:21 pm 1 comment

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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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