Website as a Communication Channel for Political Parties

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Websites as a Communication Channel for Political Parties
Vishal Srivastava Northern India Engineering College, Lucknow (India)

Abstract A recent trend among political parties is to establish a web site to communicate their messages to the public. It also affords them a new and creative way to engage with the electorate. Political parties establish this web site as a supplement to the traditional media of television, radio and newspaper. This is because a lot of the electorate especially the youth and women tends to go to these political web site to solicit for information to make an inform decision. The purpose of this study was to investigate how political parties are using the Internet to serve their stakeholders. To reach this purpose, three research questions were stated: How the objectives (benefits) of political party web sites can be described; how the stakeholders served on these web sites can be described; and finally how the web sites design can be described. To answer these research questions, four case studies (two political party websites from the US and two from India), were investigated. In order to collect the data, direct observation/interaction with the web sites was used. The findings indicate that the stakeholders and the content of each web site differ from party-to-party as well as from country-to-country, indicating both a political as well as cultural differences. Key words: Communication channel, web site, political parties, stakeholder.

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Websites as a Communication Channel for Political Parties
1. Introduction Throughout the world, organizations are realizing the need and potential in serving its stakeholders through the web Flak et al., (2003). According to Moon (2002) the functions and utility of the web in public management can be grouped into two main categories namely the internal and external. He stated that internally, the web site is used as an effective and efficient tool that collects, store, organize and manage large volume of data and information. On the external front, the web is used in facilitating linkages between the political party, voters, supporters, journalist, and volunteers. 2. Problem Discussion According to Selm et al. (2002), supporting promotional activities of the party such as the sales of the party merchandise and the promotion of citizen-to-party and party-to-citizen communication are key objectives, why political parties establish a web presence. The design of the web site is also one of the main issues to consider when developing organizations web pages. Kent (1999) said that the content of the web site should be textual rather than graphics. Also the type of style to adopt, structure and the purpose of creating the web site are of paramount. In discussing the issue of political parties, identification of stakeholders cannot be ruled out Rowley (1997). For the organization, the web site provides them the opportunity to communicate with their stakeholder public and the media. 3. Research Purpose and Research Questions From the above reasons, the purpose of this thesis is formulated as: “To provide a better understanding on how political parties are using the public (outer) internet layer to serve its stakeholders”. The research questions are formulated as: 1. How can the objectives (benefits) of political party web sites be described? 2. How can the stakeholders served on political party web sites be described? 3. How can the design of the political party web sites be described? 4. Literature Review Objectives of Web Sites Political parties have varied objectives in establishing a website. According to Kent et al., (2003) web sites provide a controlled channel through which political parties can communicate with various stakeholders. It also serves as a two-way communication channel (Breitenbach and Van Doren, 1998). According to Djupsund and Carlson (2002), the website provides political parties with new ways to reach out to the voters. They...
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