Hanging up posters, making door-to-door visits, speaking at packed rallies… election campaigning and parties’ political strategies often play out as planned in the real world. But with a fresh batch of Gen Y/X voters comes an increasingly tech-literate electorate, and a presence online is now as important as meeting parliament hopefuls face-to-face. Question: How well do the political parties involved in #GE2015 perform on the Internet?

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“Care to explain? Spell check?”

New kids on the block SingFirst were arguably the first to reveal their 20th century roots. Who can forget their spellcheck gaffe earlier in August, where the party’s failure to grasp basic IT tools made them the laughing stock of #GE2015 before campaigning had even begun?

As one comment put it, “Singfirst, a word of advice, you may alienate younger voters if your party continues to make mistakes like leaving the spellcheck markings in your press release. Might seem small but shows a certain disconnect with younger voters.” Unlike many technophobes’ fears, the Internet is merely a stage, a rostrum with a really loud mic for its users to utilise. An instrument is both a useless piece of material and a star-making tool, the difference lies solely in the talent of its players.

Essentially, who and what you are can and will be amplified over the Internet.

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“Real leaders will not leave concerns unanswered”

Already the leaders of the local YouTube world, Singaporean comedy duo Munah Bagharib and Hirzi Zulkiflie announced their entry into political commentary with a series of incisive tweets.

Posed towards political parties who bothered to make an effort to interact with the tech-savvy population, the People’s Action Party (@PAPSingapore), Singapore Democratic Party (@yourSDP), and the Workers’ Party (@wpsg) were all sent the same question over Twitter on 1st September.

@MunahAndHirzi then waited for the parties to respond, ending the first day with the statement “Real leaders will not leave concerns unanswered”.

By Day 2, only @PAPSingapore had responded to the query, with the duo cheering on the prompt replies with cheering emojis. mho ge2015 1 The other two parties, however, completely ignored the question. @MunahAndHirzi closed the second day by pointing this out.

By Day 3, it was clear that the other parties were not about to respond anytime soon. The opinion leaders left a scathing photoset on Twitter.  

Naysayers might dismiss these tweets as mild online harassment or just mere trolling – phrases sometimes employed to diminish the voice of the youth – but the duo proved the stereotype of an apathetic youth wrong with their comments on 6th September.

When @PAPSingapore turned the focus back on @MunahAndHirzi, the duo listed 7 of their greatest concerns and issues faced by their identities as young Singaporeans, entertainers in the local industry, and average working-class locals.

Keep in mind that all these exchanges occurred in front of a 131,400-strong audience – the collective Twitter following [email protected], @yourSDP, @wpsg and @MunahAndHirzi. To put things in perspective, the entire Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency (GRC) electorate count stands at 122,476 this year.

And out of the 131.4K observers on Twitter, @MunahAndHirzi commanded the greatest following among the four accounts, with their every tweet being viewed by more than 40,900 young fans. It is worthy to note that the youth of today are the voters of tomorrow.

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The New Megaphone

For a political battle to be truly fair in this day and age, all parties should adopt an online presence. Gaining a sizeable following and engaging in active political discourse in our connected, first-world environment is not only incredibly simple, but it also helps the voters understand the candidates in a unique way. In #GE2015 and the elections to come, a single official tweet from the phone of an enthusiastic social media intern will grossly outweigh the effort of a rented lorry circling the heartlands with a megaphone attached.

If you still disregard the position of the Internet in any situation here in the 21st century, then maybe you shouldn’t be in politics.

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(Photo: William Cho/Flickr via CC BY-SA 2.0)

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