Following his article on electoral campaign advertisements, Ghassan Su`ud has another report this time on campaigning on the Internet. It is in Arabic, but it provides links to websites most of which have an English version (even francophone candidates are converting to English. What is the world coming to?).
Interestingly, Hizballah was among the first political parties to ride the Internet wave back in 1997, by first providing material to al-Mashriq and then, later, going off on their own. Things are different today. While March 14, the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, and the Kataeb have expended a lot of energy — and done so early on — to present their candidates and an “elections” section on their websites, Hizballah is playing it low key and has candidate blurbs only in Arabic. Future Movement followed suit more recently by adding a candidate section to its personality-cult website. And, apart from the advertisement at the bottom, I did not find any evidence on Amal’s website of an upcoming election.
This could be partly explained by the parties’ conceptions of the percentage of their electorate residing abroad and their dependence on the Internet. There is also the newly found savviness for corporate identity and image-management since the Cedar Revolution and its concomitant breed of graphic design tools. Most importantly, I do not think it is a coincidence that most of the electoral websites mentioned in Su`ud’s article belong to Christian candidates — specifically candidates running in Matn and Beirut 1 (Ashrafiyah, Rmayl, Sayfi). The parties with the most engaging websites are also invested in the results of the elections in these districts. Incidentally, Matn and Beirut 1, along with Zahlah, are the only real battlegrounds in the upcoming elections.