Asian nations watch effect of SNS campaigning

As 40.18 million go to the polls in South Korea’s parliamentary elections today, other Asian democracies are watching to see how the use of social media in campaigning bears on the outcome.

What difference will it make given the close fight between the ruling conservative New Frontier Party and the centre-left Democrats United Party .

Traditional telephone polls have given the ruling Saenuri Party an edge over its rival.

However, the DUP could pull off an upset win through its assiduous courting of the ‘tweeter’ generation, according to cyberspace pollsters.

They pointed to the better connection opposition blogging candidates have established with under-40s voters attracted to liberal causes compared to their establishment counterparts.

Twitters has become a platform for moderate voters  to vent their anger and frustration against the incumbent lawmakers and big business. 

Asian governments contemplating a switch from ballot paper to electronic voting may find the Twitter effect an interesting electorate phenomenon. 

Conventionally, voters go to a polling station and pick their candidates by marking a ‘X’ in the box on the ballot paper.  With electronic voting system voters will press a button or a lever — much like what netizens do touching  keyboard on their laptops or I-Phones.

Marking out your ballot paper. Not forgetting that voters do change their minds at the last minute when they actually vote, whether using the manual or electronic voting method.  

The South Korea parliamentary polls are taking place amid tension in the Korean Peninsula created by North Korea’s plans to launch a satellite, purportedly to mark the centenary of its founding President Kim Il-sung. 

Faced with a hardline communist regime, President Lee Myung Bak has taken a tough approach in dealing with its leaders.

 Previous administrations had taken a different line towards Pyongyang such as the Sunshine Policy of the late Kim Dai-jung.

How to deal effectively with North Korea and its young leader Kim Jong Un is both a practical and emotional issue in the hustings.

Will there be a continuation or modification of  President Lee’s policy if the incumbent party triumphs in the polls? Will the Opposition try a new tack towards the North and seek an accommodation with its new leader Kim Jong-un?

Whichever the election outcome and  policy options of the winners, the rest of Asia is concerned and has a stake in seeing peace and stability in the region.

The cut and thrust of this hotly-contested parliamentary election will hopefully throw up capable and pragmatic politicians for  the upcoming Presidential elections in December.

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