Compulsory Voting, Encouraged Tweeting?

Australian Elections and Social Media

Authored by: Tim Highfield , Axel Bruns

The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  December  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138860766
eBook ISBN: 9781315716299
Adobe ISBN: 9781317506560


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As the various chapters in this volume demonstrate, the use of social media platforms for political purposes—from commentary and analysis to activism and more tangential discussions—covers a wealth of contexts and forms. Such a diverse range of approaches to the political on social media is apparent even in election settings, which might be expected to feature only a few obvious themes. In this chapter, we examine patterns in social media activity around Australian elections; our analysis focuses primarily on the 2013 federal election, but we contextualise this study within our extended research into Australian politics on social media, including elections at the federal and state levels since 2007. We approach Australian elections on social media from three perspectives. First, we discuss the evolution of the use of online platforms during elections, for campaigning and citizen commentary alike. Second, we consider how politicians and their parties employed social media during the 2013 election, focusing on Twitter. Third, we examine how citizens engaged with the election and the voting experience by identifying practices of tweeting on election day itself. The specific context of Australian politics, including compulsory voting for citizens on the electoral roll, makes this case notably different from other Western democracies, where Twitter is not adopted to the same extent, a wider range of parties and ideologies might be present in the political spectrum, and voting is optional.

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