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e-Democracy update - 28/6/06 - Hillary Clinton's new web consultant, UK council blogging, and Mexico's election campaign goes online

28 June, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

Clinton campaign hires prominent blogger to lure online support

US Senator Hillary Clinton has hired a prominent political blogger to court internet users for her campaign as a future presidential nominee.

Her campaign has hired Peter Daou from Salon.com's Daou Report to act as a web consultant.

"Peter's experience building bridges between the blogosphere and the Democratic Party will be a huge asset for us," Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson says.

Sen Clinton is up for re-election this year and is a possible presidential candidate for 2008.

She has been a frequent target of bloggers, particularly liberals who are angry over her refusal to disavow her vote in 2002 to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq.

Mr Daou has acted previously as an online consultant to 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry, the United Nations Foundation and the American Association of Retired Persons

UK Councillor endorses more blogs

A UK Councillor for the Borough of Merton thinks more politicians should utilise blog technology to reach the constituency.

Pollards Hill Ward Councillor Martin Whelton, who has been blogging consistently for the last two months, says blogging is a growing industry.

"In the US, more and more politicians have blogs. More people are using the internet and we need to exploit this technology," he says.

"I think it's important as councillors that we are open and accessible and we communicate about things we are doing.

"People need to see that as councillors we are ordinary people. We're not complete politicos. We do have a life and other interests too."

However, he also says you have to watch things like potential defamation issues in comments sections.

"I monitor the comments before I put them on the page but I try and let most appear as they were written," he says

"Sometimes you do get a few derogatory comments. There was a very derogatory one about MP Siobhain McDonagh in relation to the issue of academies in Merton, so I censored it."

Visit the blog here.

Internet has big effect on Mexican election campaign

Presidential candidates in Mexico are targeting voters using online games, cartoons and spam e-mails for the 2 July election.

Reports indicate this is the first election where the Internet could make a real difference in Mexico due to the high number of young voters who are online.

A spokesperson for Conservative candidate Felipe Calderon says he agrees this is the first Mexican election in which the Internet is having a real impact.

"Our war room believes [the Internet] is a crucial vote-winning tool," spokesman Arturo Sarukhan says.

Calderon's campaign has employed the use of online cartoons portraying him as a superhero fighting dinosaurs and online games portraying him as a sharp-toothed fish.

His opposition, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has sent a mass e-mail campaign portraying opponents as attacking vampires and Nazi propagandists.

Obrador's spokesperson, Claudia Sheinbaum, says such e-mails show the creativity of a social movement.

"People are outraged at seeing the candidate attacked so viciously and want to do something," she says.

However, some Mexican voters, like Luis Trujillo, are fed up with the spam messages.

"I've been getting campaign e-mails everyday, and they block up my account. It's invasion, saturation," Trujillo says.

Dili relying upon SMS

Reports indicate East Timorese citizens are relying upon mobile SMS technology to communicate with each other amidst civil war conditions.

Likewise, East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta text messaged his resignation earlier this week to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, who also resigned this week.

Reuters reports "text messaging has emerged as the fastest and most reliable means of communication" amidst political tensions within the country.

Protesters calling for Alkatiri's resignation also utilised SMS mobile technology to spread news of his departure on Monday.

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