Russian parties and the political internet

Luke March*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Party adoption of new internet and communication technologies (ICTs) has generally been seen as reactive and ad hoc rather than strategic, stylistic and supplementary rather than fundamental, and top-down, administrative and information-heavy rather than interactive or participative, in stark contrast to the potential ascribed to ICTs. However, the growing sophistication of some parties' and candidates' web strategies and evidence of far greater internet savviness among younger voters still offer hope for more incremental, if piecemeal, party 'e-volution'. This study first outlines some of the expectations of party use of the web identified by the literature, then analyses how Russian parties have exploited the new medium to date. Certainly the limits in both intent and effect are evident in Russian political parties' use of the internet, in which cultural and institutional constraints play a significant role. Yet differences between individual parties' web strategies reinforce the view that party attitude and philosophy strongly influence the scope and effectiveness of their uptake of ICTs. Overall, while erratic or superficial party use of ICTs is widely apparent, there is evidence of a learning curve, with several parties seeing them as a key plank of their long-term strategy. While, in theory, new democracies might appear to offer greater potential for the use of the web in party organisation and campaigning, in Russia's case this potential has to date been limited by the narrow physical reach of the Russian net (Runet) and the vast political capital advantages possessed by select offline political actors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-400
Number of pages32
JournalEurope - Asia Studies
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2004

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