It’s fair to say the Spanish election race has failed to get hearts racing with excitement. In fact rather than a ‘race’ it resembles a fatigued shuffle towards the finishing line.
For one thing, polls have long been monotonously predicting a landslide victory for the “Partido Popular” (Popular Party). But then even if that turns out to be the case, few people are expecting a turnaround in Spain’s economic fortunes, given what PP leader Mariano Rajoy would be inheriting.
For the Socialist party (PSOE) currently in government, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba seems condemned to an exercise in damage limitation.
Given this context the message is markedly downbeat. The slogan being used by Rajoy’s communication team translates as something like ‘We’ll pull through this’ (Saldremos). ‘Yes We Can’ it is not.
Fortunately the web has brought some much-needed fresh air to an otherwise stale election campaign.
Crowds from the ‘Indignados’ or ‘15M’ protest movement may have shown politicians the importance of a strong e-presence, but the leading candidates are struggling to find their place in a Spanish society that, like most others, is becoming increasingly addicted to social media.
Rubalcaba sprung a surprise with his “Points program”. Like mobile phone companies, his team has rewarded followers who ‘mention’ the PSOE’s messages on Twitter and who ‘share‘ them on Facebook. You get two points for sharing, and 20 points for signing up to be a campaign volunteer.
Reach 425 Facebook ‘shares‘ and you receive a coffee mug. Or you can settle for lipstick for just 250 points.
Earlier this year Rajoy’s team asked conservative militants to ‘lend their Twitter accounts’ to better serve the candidate’s cause.
Predictably, such initiatives have been derided by many Spaniards on the web, where jokes come cheap. But as well as being a breeding ground for mockery, social media are also taken very seriously: Spanish news agency EFE is releasing daily reports on the cyber-campaign, entitled Elecciones Generales. La Campañ@. Almost each and every Spanish digital medium analyzes in detail the candidates’ e-popularity, their tag clouds, number of followers and ability to generate ‘likes’.
Among the main social media headlines in recent days is that Proyecto Equo, a new eco-leftist coalition closely linked to the 15M movement has more ‘likes’ on Facebook than the main contenders, Rajoy and Rubalcaba.
Some electoral social media facts (as of 18.11.2011)
Twitter: @PPopular >43,000 followers
Facebook: >44,000 ‘likes’
Twitter followers on @marianorajoy: >111,800
Mentions on Twitter: >49,000
Facebook ‘Likes’: >66,200
Youtube Channel: 29,297 subscribers
Twitter: @PSOE >42,000 followers
Facebook: >34,900 ‘Likes’
Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba
Twitter followers on @conRubalcaba: >76,400
Mentions on Twitter: >63,000
Facebook ‘Likes’: >44,700
Youtube Channel: 627 subscribers
Proyecto Equo (a new ecologist and humanist coalition, involved in the ‘Indignados’ protests).
Twitter followers on @juralde: >13,700
Mentions on Twitter: >5,450
Facebook ‘Likes’: >72,400
Youtube channel: 423 subscribers.