Dave, you’ll probably get a kick out of this: today there were parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. It is a multiparty system with about 15 parties competing for people votes. The government is always a collation and it has been christen-democrats + liberals for the past 6 years or even longer. Keep in mind that liberals are considered right-wing in the Netherlands. There are 150 seats in the house of representatives and it is common for the largest party to not have more than 35-40 seats.
Anyway, one of the more popular politicians is Jan Marijnissen, the leader of the SP – Socialistische Partij (Socialist Party). The SP are the hard core socialists, with strong ties to the labor organizations and very principled when it comes to taking care of the disadvantaged in the society. Traditionally the PvdA (Labor Party) was considered to be the representative of the blue collar work force, but they have been too centric and too compromising in the past decade to play this role.
Jan Marijnissen is a blogger (http://www.janmarijnissen.nl/). He embraced blogging 2-3 years ago and will write the entries himself and respond to comments himself also. He motivated the whole party to embrace the internet as one of their main communication channels and they produced a continuous stream of podcasts and videos and used collaboration tools to coordinate the grassroots organization on which the party is built.
Marijnissen’s appeal is mainly that he is a very principled, honest politician. People feel that they can trust him, and his accessibility through his weblog has been a main tool in directly connecting and responding to voters.
Marijnissen’s party went from 9 seats to 26 seats in today’s election, becoming the 3rd largest party. This kind of increase in number of seats is unheard of in the Netherlands and has earthquake like implications for the political landscape. The first reports all analyze this victory 1) people in the Netherlands still care very much for “equality” 2) the SP was really able connect to voters and the internet was an important channel for that. Many talk about that it actually gave them a strategic advantage and that even the were considered a small party, they got equal attention of the old-media because the use of internet channels.
regards, just thought you would enjoy this,