Politicians and Twitter
Marianne Thieme is the politician I followed on Twitter. She is a member of the Dutch parliament for the first animal rights party in history chosen into office called ‘Partij voor de Dieren’ (PvdD). Ever since the attendance of this party, I vote for it because I am also a patron for upgrading and improving animal welfare.
Marianne Thieme is an active user of Twitter. She posts at least 4 to 5 messages a day, not only using text messages but also pictures, links and videos. The messages are not only on politics, also on personal stuff. There is one big misunderstanding about this party: many people think that PvdD would only be interested in animal welfare. Obviously, that is one of their mean issues but PvdD has – like any other party in office – a plan considering much more issues about society. On the whole, this is a left-wing party.
PvdD is a rather small party and it seems to me Marianne Thieme uses Twitter also to get more patrons who will sign petitions against different matters of animal cruelty. In one of her messages she states there is only one thing left to do against deforestation in the Netherlands: become a member of PvdD:
16 sep: “Als je ziet met welke botte bijl dit kabinet onze laatste bossen in trekt, kan je nog maar één ding doen: partijvoordedieren.nl/extra/wordlid.”
A few days ago the cabinet had to vote about the aerating of goose’s. Victory for PvdD; there were more votes against the aerating! Marianne Thieme gave a happy and thankful reaction:
27 sep: “Geweldig veel dank aan iedereen die zich heeft ingezet voor steun aan onze motie om de ganzenvergassing tegen te houden #samenkunnenweveel”
She interacts with voters ànd opponents. Marianne Thieme also asks for the opinion of her followers on Twitter. One of her questions really made me laugh, a question about which shoes to wear at the yearly ‘Prinsjesdag’. She cannot be serious…
Nowadays we live in an era where connectedness is as much governed by emotional reactions (Jackson & Lilleker, 2009). You can suggest that the use of Twitter can bridge a gap between politicians and voters. Jackson & Lilleker (2009) compare ‘web 1.0’ to ‘web 2.0’ and conclude there is a third web: ‘web 1.5’. Web 1.0 contains only information, whereas web 2.0 is highly interactive. Web 1.5 is defined as “…extensive use of the architecture of participation, but much less use of the community’s democratic structure.” (Jackson & Lilleker, 2009: 248).
If Marianne Thieme would be a Web 2.0 user she would not have much time left doing other, probably more important, things. At the same time she is not a Web 1.0 user because she interacts with followers and is not only posting information, information, information… Is she than a Web 1.5 user? Regardless, I do not agree with the suggesting that Twitter bridges a gap between politicians and voters. After following Marianne Thieme on Twitter I know more about her job and the viewpoint of PvdD. I aslo found it surprising she posts comic messages as well. When I think of a politician, I think of a rigid person and Marianne Thieme is definitely not. I keep on following her on Twitter and maybe become a member of PvdD.
Jackson, N. A., & Lilleker, D. (2009). Building an architecture of participation? Political parties and Web 2.0 in Britain, Journal of Information Technology & Politics, vol.6, pp.232-250.