Majoritarian MPs and lackluster social networking accountability
There is an increasing recognition that social networking has become a tool for citizens to hold the state accountable and make it responsive to their needs. In Georgia, for example, the internet is the second most important source of information after TV, with more than half of young people going online on a daily basis. Based on this, we decided to check how majoritarian MPs (Members of Parliament), who are directly elected representatives from single-mandate districts, use social network tools to communicate with their constituencies.
We searched and checked the presence of each majoritarian MP on three social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Our assessments are based on the frequency of posted updates, details of the posted information and number of responded citizen inquiries. We took into account only those pages that had at least one update in 2014; as such, we did not include social networking accounts created and used for pre-electoral purposes in 2012 parliamentary elections.
A handful of majoritarians, such as Eka Beselia and Tamar Kordzaia, use their Facebook Pages to post updates about their parliamentary activities. Davit Usupashvili, for example, has an active Facebook Page, as well as an YouTube channel for statements and interviews. The findings, however, show that social networking is in overall poorly used as means to communicate with the general public. Out of 73 majoritarian deputies only 10 have an active Facebook page, while only
one has three have an active YouTube channel. Twitter is actively used only by Tina Khidasheli.
Use of social networking tools by majoritarian deputies
Moreover, we looked into the individual majoritarian webpages that were funded by NDI and created to allow majoritarian MPs to publish information relevant to their respective constituencies. Unfortunately, those sites came under hacker attacks in early 2014 and all information on them was erased. Our findings found that to date only four majoritarians have resumed posting updates on their individual webpages.
It is our belief that accountability is one of the building cornerstones of democratic governance. Social networks provide citizens with a platform where their concerns and questions will be heard, as well as enabling the government to be driven to serve society rather than themselves. These platforms are especially important for parliamentarians to determine how they can be more responsive to the needs of individual citizens.
Unfortunately, due to poor social network engagement, it can be difficult for certain groups of citizens to obtain information on majoritarian MPs’ activities. We thus encourage all majoritarians to more effectively use social networking tools, and recommend the restoration of personal web-pages to provide information on their parliamentary activities. In this regard, we recommend engaged citizens to bolster the presence of deputies on social networks through chemiparlamenti.ge, a TI Georgia parliamentary project that enables users to view information about elected MPs, the procedural status of laws being considered by Parliament, and allows citizens to pose questions to their representatives in Parliament.
You can view the full research here.
* Special thanks to TI Georgia’s intern Luka Kalandarishvili for contributing to the research.