As it may be inferred from the examples above, the U.S.A. is the leader when talking about online campaigns. Other countries' experiences may look poor in comparison with the American giant even if we invoke the cases of famous European democracies like Germany.
First of all, this country has a parliamentary system which explains why the parties and not the candidates are those who maintain sites. Therefore, Americans enjoy a more personal virtual relationship while Germans are only entitled to a rather collectivist approach. Despite having access to contact information, biographies, details about platforms, the party is the one which counts to a higher degree. But this seems to be the only major difference between the two countries' web sites as their main goal is providing information, an aim that has received the highest rank from Germans, on a four-point scale.
Still, unlike American candidates who are beginning to understand the importance of 'living' sites, Germans completely neglect interactivity. In the 2002 elections, member feedback ranked 1 and voter feedback ranked 0 on a scale from 0 to 4. This means that the idea of building a mutually trustful relationship almost didn't exist. Tom Carlson and Goran Djupsund suggested the following explanation: "the candidates may fear losing control of the message in an online discussion with voters, not all of them being sympathetic toward the candidate in question" (cited by Teeling, 2006).
The major advantage that the Internet offered to German campaigns was the equitable relationship it created between small and large parties. Until the emergence of political websites, larger parties were favored over smaller ones through different media regulations which established the broadcasting time proportionally to size. This obviously hindered parties lacking in dimension from conveying their political beliefs and intentions. But nowadays, thanks to web tools, small competitors can directly communicate with voters in spite of their limited financial resources which have prevented them from appearing on the same stage with larger counterparts, in the first place. Additionally, the Internet suppresses the need to establish headquarters or to attract human and financial resources for these organizations to work.
The differences between the U.S.A. And Germany are also rooted in the penetration of web access. The International Telecommunications Union has emphasized that in the U.S.A., Internet's home land, people are allowed a higher access to electronic resources than in Germany. So, in order to catch up with Americans in the e-political field, Germans should first extend online facilities among homes and businesses. Secondly, they should revise their attitude towards the electronic alternative because unlike net-addicted Americans who are one of the world's most active surfers, Germans seem rather indolent and distrustful of this new political medium (Teeling, 2006).
To conclude with, the gap existing between U.S.A and Germany derives from both mentality and logistic reasons. In this context, Germans should take measures aimed at commuting the old perception of the Internet as a fragile environment to a newer one emphasizing that this cannot be ignored under the circumstances of an increasing number of internauts worldwide. Although the Internet is not "the firestorm, but the spark," politicians should use it together with traditional media for inducing the desired perception in voters' minds.
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