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Politicians (on Facebook) do not communicate with the citizens

The other day I spoke to Marija Dragić, a reporter from Tanjug, on the topic of on-line activities of domestic political parties.

I would have a couple of remarks in the part of interpretation, but given that I was talking too fast, being focused on some other topics as well, I do consider the interview below authentic enough. As far as I heard, this interview was also published in the daily newspapers Večernje novosti and Blic.

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‘The parties in Serbia use the new media in the old-fashioned way and are not ready to use all the potentials the Internet carries, since almost 80% of them use Facebook the wrong way. This is not good for the on-line community who got speakers from the politics, but not the way they wanted’, says Mrs Đermanović, the author of ‘Strategy for the use of the social media’.

‘Political parties should, with the help of the Internet and Facebook, enter an open dialogue with the interested citizens and show their readiness to hear what people have to say about their work’, she suggested. ‘This possibility of interaction’, Đermanović added, ‘is what makes the new media different from the classic ones since it gives the opportunity of more diverse and modern forms of communication.’

Although most of the pages are being regularly updated, they all look alike and contain mainly the same information about the parties and their leaders, showing them in the media, on photos from the partys’ events, actions they take… However, the sole existence of profiles and pages on Facebook is not enough for citizens who want to communicate with their representatives.

‘The new media, which implies the interaction and dynamics and quite transparent relationship with the user, is being used in a traditional, old-fashioned way by the parties. They simply ‘throw’ in the information refusing to involve themselves in the dialogue. What’s more, they do not want to hear what the users have to say to them.’, says Đermanović.

Nevertheless, she did point out that it is a good thing that politicians realized just how great a number of 2.200.000 users of Facebook in Serbia is, which was confirmed to Tanjug by the vice-president of Nova Srbija (the New Serbia), Dubravka Filipovski and the spokesman of Demokratska stranka Srbije (The Democratic Party of Serbia), Petar Petković.

‘It is normal for the politics to be represented through Facebook as the most numerous and widest social network on-line’, Petković said and added that the youth of DSS (Demokratska stranka Srbije) maintains the party‘s pages and that he himself at times uses his personal profile to show significant party activities.

Filipovski too uses her personal profile for the promotion of party’s activities and her profile is being updated by the people from the party. “I hold nothing against the use of Facebook as a contemporary means of communication with our electors and interested citizens. Let me remind you that Obama won the elections thanks to this social network and good organization.”, she concluded.

However, it is hard to determine just how much the politicians are actually present in this social community, since some of them have more than one profile, most of them, as they say, being fake. In that manner, you can find the President of Serbia, Boris Tadić, on Facebook, the leader of the Party of the United Pensioners of Serbia (PUPS), Milan Krkobabić, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader, Čedomir Jovanović, Tomislav Nikolić from SNS (Srpska napredna stranka- Serbian Advancement Party), Vojislav Koštunica from DSS, Velimir Ilić from NS, etc.

There are also some of the ministers, like Ivica Dačić, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Dragan Šutanovac, the Minister of Defense, Žarko Obradović- Education, Rasim Ljajić- Work and Social Politics, Jasna Matić- Telecommunications, and so on.

As you can see, the situation is still ‘confusing’ since the pages and groups are being formed by the party members, fans, sometimes even opponents. Besides the official ones, all parties on the most visited social network have also the pages of their civil and municipal boards and their number is increasing with each day.

Our president has most ‘fans’ on Facebook- 43.775 and it is interesting to note that more likes than the president goes to the former, at his time life-long, president off the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito- 47.066.

The speakers from Tanjug believe that during the information era, the Internet represents a welcome and legitimate means in the promotion of political parties, their beliefs and actions, and that in the future parties will turn to Facebook and its potentials even more, especially when taking into account the current political situation.

‘Since we are in the year of pre-elections, it is expected that all political parties will dynamically use the Internet for communication, and this is something that the internet community in Serbia, now counting almost half of the total number of inhabitants, expects from them.’, Đermanović concluded.

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