Der deutsche Bundestagswahlkampf im Superwahljahr 2009 war mit seinen Online-Elementen im Wesentlichen durch zwei Umstände geprägt: Die Erwartungen von Öffentlichkeit und Medien einen starken Online-Wahlkampf zu erleben und den Online-Experimenten der Parteien im direkten Vorlauf zur Bundestagswahl.
As the microblogging service Twitter becomes an increasingly popular tool for politicians and general users to comment on and discuss politics, researchers increasingly turn to the relationship between tweets mentioning parties or candidates and their respective electoral fortunes. This paper offers a detailed analysis of Twitter messages posted during the run-up to the 2009 federal election in Germany and their relationship to the electoral fortunes of Germany’s parties and candidates. This analysis will focus on four metrics for measuring the attention on parties and candidates on Twitter and the relationship to their respective vote share. The metrics discussed here are: the total number of hashtags mentioning a given political party; the dynamics between explicitly positive or explicitly negative mentions of a given political party; the total number of hashtags mentioning one of the leading candidates, Angela Merkel (CDU) or Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD); and the total number of users who used hashtags mentioning a given party or candidate. The results will show that during the campaign of 2009 Twitter messages commenting on parties and candidates showed little, if any, systematic relationship with subsequent votes on election day. In the discussion of the results, I will raise a number of issues that researchers interested in predicting elections with Twitter will have to address to advance the state of the literature.
Increasingly, political actors have to act in online communication environments. There they meet overlapping networked publics with different levels of participatory cultures and varying expectations of participation in the (re)making and co-production of political content. This challenges political actors used to a top-down approach to communication. Meanwhile, online users are increasingly politically involved as legislatures all over the world become more active in regulating communication environments online. These new political actors often share participatory practices and have high levels of new media skills. Now they are challenged to adapt these bottom-up participatory cultures to the traditional political environment. This paper examines these adaption processes by examining three examples from the campaign for the German federal election of 2009. These examples include the attempt of Germany's conservative party (CDU) to encourage their supporters to adapt participatory practices, the German Social Democrats' (SPD) top-down production and distribution of online content that mimicked the look and feel of user-generated content, and the bottom-up emergence of political flash mobs.