When European elections meets Facebook
“I like”, “I do not like”, “I vote”: through this temporary new Facebook function, European elections immerse themselves in social networks. Users have the opportunity to share their vote on the platform and encourage their friends to vote too. Will this button help to reduce the abstention rate?
Last Sunday, the European citizens had the opportunity to vote to elect national representatives of their country in the European Parliament. Voting is compulsory in some countries whereas in other countries the legislature is free regarding the vote. To encourage people to take an interest in politics, Facebook has decided to introduce in its algorithm a “Vote” button.
After testing the “I’m a Voter” button in 2010 and 2012 in the United States, Facebook has decided to integrate this feature in Europe for the European elections. This button encouraged more than 300 000 additional voters to go to the polls in the last U.S. elections. This experiment was also tested in India.
This feature simply informs all the user’s friends that he “voted”. In addition, the user who sees the banner for the first time has the opportunity to find his local polling station. According to Facebook, and as stated previously, this button can make a difference. According to the social network, in over 1.1 billion members, at least 400 million of them will see that one of their contacts voted this year.
It was difficult to predict whether “I vote” would also work for the European elections, but the effort was there and could maybe help to lower abstention rates up to 80% in some countries and in France it may even cross 62%. The abstention was at 56% this year and we saw a slight change. Facebook will also launch this experience for users in the coming elections in countries such as South Korea, Sweden, New Zealand or Brazil.
Clicking on “I vote” is to encourage the election, but also to advertise Facebook. The social network wants to show it is interested in social and political life and thus intends to acquire new users. But can this simple button really reduce the abstention rate? According to disclosed results, abstention is still a major issue. For example, in Slovakia only 13% of the population voted and the Czech Republic the abstention rate was of 80%. However; in other countries, such as France, the abstention rate has decreased compared to 2009.
Unfortunately, the turnout in European elections has not changed compared to 2009. This year, the participation rate increased by only 0.11 %, this is equivalent to saying that it remained the same. Simple marketing or real political interest initiative, the button “I vote” must still to prove itself. To be continued…