Violence, democracy and social networks

How does politic work in the 21st century in Latin America?

Everyone knows social networks presence is fundamental in the 21st century. With elections around the corner, politicians intensify their movement in them or open a profile, especially on Twitter, where the political debate is more intense. Facebook and Twitter become a direct path of communication with voters where political candidates are launched to the massive update of their profiles.

However, they must bear in mind that social networks are a channel for debate, for conversation, and that they will have to listen, respond and analyze (with education and respect) the opposing voices that may arise throughout the year, not Only when the elections are approaching.

In a study released by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) highlights the growing importance of social networks in Latin American political life, where the electorate expects parties to be present on the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

However, the study warns that digital campaigns can get out of control and that the social movements that emerge from them, if they do not achieve an institutional base, re-dissolve quickly.

The work of the KAS takes as fundamental examples two countries, Argentina and Colombia, where the politicians have assiduously resorted to the social networks in the last electoral campaigns.

KAS notes a key difference between the two countries. While in Argentina, both the opposition and the supporters of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the communication was one way and did not react to the concerns of users, in Colombia the willingness to answer questions and comments by Part of the politicians was older.

The study refers to a field work of a Buenos Aires communication agency that sent the same question to 200 candidates to public corporations through various channels (Facebook, Twitter and email) and only received answers in 1 percent of the Cases.

With respect to Colombia, the study attributes a key role in the electoral victory of the current president Juan Manuel Santos to the use that was given to the social networks in the final part of the campaign in which a direct communication with the voters was reached.

"It was not just about having a presence in social networks but used all the possibilities of a digital campaign," says the study.

With regard to social movements, the study alludes to the protests against the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner that arose from calls made through facebook and twitter.

However, the effect of the same was diluted, as did the indignant in Spain or the Occupy Wallstreet, by not achieving an institutional basis.

Aditionally, in the seventh edition of the Foro de la Democracia Latinoamericana, organized by the National Electoral Institute, at the premises of the Mining Palace, in the Historic Center of Mexico City, the presiding councilor Lorenzo Córdova, who served as commentator of the I Education Conference And Democracy, asked Álvaro Colom and Manuel Alcántara to reflect on the violence and risk represented in the democratic construction, "and what must be done in a democracy to face, confront and overcome that violence."

Álvaro Colom said that "violence has done tremendous damage to democracy in our region. There are many who do not want to intervene in politics. All the violence has affected the quality of candidates, the quality of organization in many of our regions, where we chose at least worse, because the good did not want to participate. "

He considered that "Democracy is built with more democracy. I do not see another way. All we have to do is strengthen democracy, strengthen youth education, and strengthen the civility of children. I still do not see another form of coexistence that is not democracy. "

The Spanish professor Manuel Alcántara said that "violence is fought with the State. I think we have the State to avoid violence in the streets, this is so. Now, the question is what kind of state and the answer is the democratic state. "

He also spoke for the strengthening of civic values since childhood: "We also have an alphabet of how we build values and we have always raised that there were two nuclei, two main niches, the family and the school. That is, in some ways the primary socialization processes that children and adolescents live in, is fundamental to creating values. "

As part of the Education and Democracy Conversation, Lorenzo Cordova also asked the speakers whether new technologies (social networks) influence the generation of a dialogue in a democratic way with the new generations (young people) and whether "The new Technologies will replace all formal mechanisms representative of democracy or are only an illusion or hypocrisy. "

Lorenzo Córdova said that sometimes discussing with an anonymous user on social networks does not contribute to strengthening democracy. In his opinion, the best way to promote democracy "is daily democratic practice, participate in the discussion of public decision-making."

In this respect, Colom pointed out that for many electoral candidates the success of the campaigns is in social networks; However, warned, these spaces can also be risky: "Networks, as well as help the massive information, I worry that in politics and democracy, networks have become judges, and there are many anonymous who do not give face. That anonymous part is irresponsible and hypocritical, and that is very dangerous. "

Manuel Alcántara, in turn, considered that social networks "have less effect than they are believed to have" in politics and democracy.

He said that social networking "what sum is very marginal". He pointed out that networks, as an engine of electoral change, serve to mobilize, "but in the end it is very difficult for a network to change to a supporter of the No to one of Yes, and vice versa, because people only read - in networks - what Wants to read. "

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