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e-Democracy update - 1/11/06 - E-dem group launches new website, UN forum discusses net's future, and US candidates get increased support through Facebook

01 November, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

UK-based e-democracy group launch new web

The International Centre of Excellence for Local e-Democracy (ICELE) has started a new website to help local authorities engage communities online.

The site acts as an online focal point for collaborative e-democracy initiatives both in the UK and abroad.

ICELE Chairman and Lichfield District Councillor Matthew Ellis says the group encourages all local authority employees to visit the site.

"ICELE will work with all parties to help ensure local people are well informed and have a real voice in local decision-making," Cr Ellis says.

"Democratic participation is steadily declining, yet opportunities to involve local people in local decision making, are growing every day."

"From text voting, to online consultations, we need to harness new technologies to make it easy for people across the country to get involved in the democratic process."

Visit their website here.

UN forum discusses net’s future

More that 1,500 delegates from around the world are meeting in Athens for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which began earlier this week.

IGF chairman Nitin Desai says the forum provides internet stakeholders the opportunity to “help identify emerging issues which need to be tackled in the formal processes”.

"It's truly appropriate that we should be meeting here in Athens, a city associated with the very idea of open democracy, particularly in this hosting of the first open house for the citizens of the global Internet for this forum," Mr Desai said in his opening speech at the IGF.

The forum runs from 30 October to 2 November and focuses on four key agendas: security, diversity, openness and access:

View transcripts and webcasts of the events at the IGF 2006 website.

Candidate profiles get support boost on Facebook

US mid-term election candidates are experiencing large increases in the number of people connecting to their profiles through social networking website Facebook.

Bentley College political scientists Christine Williams and Jeff Gulati found, on average, U.S. Senate candidates experienced a 55 per cent increase in their Facebook supporters and gubernatorial candidates experienced a 48 per cent increase over the last month.

Their study also found a 7 per cent increase in the number of both Senate and gubernatorial candidates who had a Facebook profile.

Candidates with the most supporters include New York Senator Hillary Clinton (Democrat) with 12,038 supporters (42% more than last month) and Virginia Senator George Allen (Republican) with 3,831 supporters (52% more than last month).

Recent Quinnipiac University polls place Senator Clinton at 65 per cent for the up-coming US Senatorial election, compared to her Republican opponent John Spencer at 30 per cent.

This result differs substantially from Facebook’s Election Pulse, which places Ms Clinton at 84 per cent popularity and Mr Spencer at 6 per cent.

However, the discrepancy doesn’t hold true in the case of Senator Allen. The randomised Rasmussen poll puts him at 46 per cent for the election while
Facebook’s Election Pulse puts his vote at 44 per cent.

Professor Gulati says candidates should not expect Facebook to have a substantial impact on the election outcome.

"The real benefits of social networking sites will be felt in the future for those candidates who continue to engage their supporters after the election is over by promoting a genuine sense of community among them," he says.

Professor Williams says the younger demographic usually associated with Facebook is attracted to a different candidate persona than older voters

"The dynamics of their social networks operate independently of traditional political forces and mainstream news mediators," she says.

Visit Facebook.

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