This project examined the role and use of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the 2005 UK election campaign. Specifically, it assessed:
How far parties are exploiting the unique characteristics of the Internet to foster new styles of election campaigning.
The extent to which ICTs are allowing smaller fringe parties to become more electorally competitive.
The extent to which the technologies open up new channels of communication and information and thus change the nature of electoral participation.
The research also contributed to broader debates about the changing role of parties, campaigning and concerns about declining electoral turnout.
The project gathered data from both a top-down party perspective and bottom-up voter perspective using qualitative and quantitative methods which included: feature analysis of party and candidate websites examining party activity online; interviews with party officials and party surveys to assess the objectives and effectiveness of the online campaign, as well as the costs/benefits of online campaigning compared to other media; a public opinion survey examining access to, use of, and interest in, the Internet, World Wide Web and other ICTs in general; and focus group analysis to elicit in more detail people's expectations, use and attitudes towards the online political campaign.
This work was suppported by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) grant number RES-000-22-1284.