Election 2017 marks a welcome shift in campaign methods
Despatches from the election front – ‘despite chaos all goes well’

Social media rises: what an impact on PNG’s national election

Francis NiiFRANCIS NII

SOCIAL media is high speed, handy, easily accessible and a powerful tool to disseminate information, promote ideas and products, communicate political platforms and run election campaigns.

In the current Papua New Guinean election, social media has played an unprecedented role in disseminating and circulating election issues; greater than any other media stream.

Papua New Guineans who have not realised the power of social media or simply have been ignorant of it until this election have woken up to it.

Writer and commentator Philip Fitzpatrick in a recent article in PNG Attitude pointed out the power of social media and the tremendous amount of writing produced not only by journalists but ordinary Papua New Guineans on election-related matters in social media.

This has included the promotion of platforms by political parties, propaganda from candidates and supporters and commentary from ordinary citizens.

A large number of candidates have taken advantage of this communications revolution by running their campaign on Facebook in addition to public rallies and visits to villages and suburbs.

Some of them have done pretty well on social media. One is Papua New Guinea’s much loved patriot and diehard warrior against corruption, Bryan Kramer. I won’t be surprised if he unseats PNC Party candidate and sitting MP for Madang, Nixon Duban.

Social media has the potential to swing political power.

There is no other media outlet through which information gets to the ordinary masses faster than Facebook. Although perhaps 90% of the population has no access to social media like Facebook, information reaches them orally at lightning speed.

What really happens is that, when information reaches Facebook subscribers, they immediately feeds others and this chain accelerates so spreading information to the masses quickly.

A lot of people in Kundiawa, where I live, knew about the apprehension of the NCD election manager, Terrence Hetinu, and the discovery of K184,300 in his possession.

They knew from Facebook in less than an hour of the incident. This is how fast information travels through social media.

People need to be well informed of matters affecting their life and country.  When they become aware of these issues and developments, only then they can participate meaningfully by making informed decisions.

And one of the effective ways for dissemination of information is through social media which have taken prominence in this election.

There is no other media outlet that exposed the alleged criminal yearnings and dealings of Peter O’Neill in the manner that social media has done.

Now it appears that most provinces have turned against Peter O’Neill and his PNC Party in this election because of the massive awareness generated by social media regarding unpopular decisions and also allegations of serious crimes that went unprosecuted in court.

The burning of PNC Party tee-shirts and caps in the Eastern Highlands and other parts of PNG; the violent revolt against Peter O’Neill by the people of Goroka while he was campaigning for PNC candidate and incumbent governor Julie Soso and the stoning of PNC candidate and incumbent Simbu Governor Noah Kool in Kundiawa were manifestations of people’s informed riposte to O’Neill and PNC’s poor governance.

The massive anti-O’Neill and PNC sentiment and the crusades we have seen and read about in social media is an indication of the minds and hearts of the people of PNG.

Peter O’Neill seems set to lose his prime ministership and a new government headed by a new prime minister is the likely outcome of this election.

Until next time…..

Comments

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Lindsay F Bond

That "massive anti-O’Neill and PNC sentiment" has yet to go to the count.

By count, I refer to the sport of boxing which has been huge in Brisbane this last weekend. Not only that a referee applies a count when a boxer is downed, also when both boxers remain as standing, the panel of judges apply a count of points for punches, aggression, command and defense. The referee count is immediately obvious, whereas the count from the judges is likely to be discussed long after the sported event.

While (hopefully) not of sport, the PNG 2017 national election event has both massive support from the constituency and message purports as Francis offers of his glean of "minds and hearts of the people".

What counts from this election event is the composition of the next parliament and the conversation carried forward by constituency. Of those who polled most of the count in 2012, the 2017 count might register as and be judged as, a massive missive.

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