The new technological breakthroughs in the area of communications tend to change from foundation the various fields of political activity (we are just referring to this area, as there are many other ones that are undergoing a huge transformation process under the same kind of impact). First since 2004, Facebook has gradually changed from scratch the way of doing politics at a national and international level. Not only did this digital tool create a new ‘nation’ globally, deterritorialized and multinational, of huge size, easily mobilisable in attitude and choice and with a massive international level, but it tends to become a replacement for the way political leaders communicate with the masses of supporters, as an element of notable improvement of transparency. It has created parties (Italy of Germany), won elections (Romania), took decision-making down from the unreachable Olympus to the agora massively populated by voters with an insatiable hunger for information on those who wish to shape their destinies. Today there is no political leader above a certain level – party heads, heads of state, of national or international notoriety – that has no account on Facebook (estimations say there are approximately 1.3 bn Facebook users in the world). It is used for instant communication of ideas and positions and has successfully replaced not just the traditional media (print, broadcasting) that are heroically struggling to stay in this field of political reference – but also another digital application that at some point seemed to be defeating the other competitors in the area of communication – the personal blog.
Since 2007, another application from the same technological category – Twitter – has had an amazing progress. Its strengths are well-known: it communicates in a maximum condensed form (about 20 words) political ideas and positions that are instantly discussed, declined or shared and accepted by partners in the virtual domestic or foreign pace, classified in a political registry in real time and with an unprecedented public impact compared to the aforementioned applications (blog or Facebook). A few examples – we are randomly choosing both surface protagonists and hot political subjects on the international agenda – will evince new ways of doing foreign politics and adding important indexes of transparency to the responsible and transforming political act of realities rooted in conservationism.
Here are, for example, the ideas that circulate in what regards the orientation of the European Union on the ‘Eastern neighbourhood’, therefore an area where, in the last year, a clash of geopolitical magnitude has been recorded as demonstrated by the situation in Ukraine. Turning to Johannes Hahn’s Twitter, the European Commissioner responsible for the field, we will observe a large activity.
Along lines that could have been appreciated, at least seen from the point of view of the violence reported in Ukraine these days, as subject to a reconsideration of substance. A few hours before this column was written, Hahn was communicating on his personal Twitter the following:
“Armenia can count on continued EU support to advance political and social reforms and improve the protection of fundamental rights“. As known, in September 2013, in a sudden move officially explained by national security reasons, Yerevan renounced its European choice – signing the association treaty with the European Union – and opted for a partnership with the Eurasian Union proposed by Russia. It was a first sign of a huge bloody geopolitical confrontation the witness of which now is the international scene in Ukraine. The same Hahn notes measures assumed in advancing on the way to the EU by Armenia, mentioning in the context: “Press Conf.following EU–Armenia #Cooperation Council w. E. NALBANDIAN, FM of Armenia + E.Rinkevucs, FM of Latvia”. On 15 January 2015, Hahn’s Twitter communicated the results obtained in the area of neighbourhood policy in Georgia: “Meeting w. PM: Highlighted Georgia‘s role as one of the frontrunners of Eastern Partnership. Thanked PM for European commitment”-, and the following days mentions actions in the Balkans (Bosnia). Other participants in a genuine debate on the EU enlargement dossier that seems to be ‘frozen’ add value and new information. For instance, the engagement in the debate of “Former Swedish EU ambassador and Director-General for EU Neighbourhood & Enlargement @DanielssonEU now on Twitter. Welcome! “. Latvian Presidency communicated on Twitter that: ” Over the next six months, we hope to advance enlargement negotiations where possible, says @edgarsrinkevics to @EP_ForeignAff”.
But communication on Twitter, through its qualities, communicates ideas that call for reflections and debates that are immediately ignited and developed with numerous participants. Sweden’s Ex-Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, one of the pioneers of this new form of communication in international politics, noted a few hours ago, around the opening of the Global Economic Forum at Davos “Has the era of globalization given way to a new era of geopolitics? Conflicting trends. Key debates at wef15.” A few minutes after that, as a sign of own reflection on the matter, he noted/communicated: “Davos or Donetsk? Globalisation or geopolitics? Where are we heading in the years ahead? Interesting days ahead. wef15.”
The implication suggested is obvious, knowing the bloody clashes of the Ukrainian troops and the pro-Russia separatists at the Donetzk airport. Nouriel Roubini, attending the Davos Forum, communicated on Twitter the topic of his presentation on the meeting: ” This year at WEF15 I will speak about global economy, geopolitical risks, geopolitics of oil, financial markets, future of art world, etc “. Another participant was explaining his presence at Davos: “Why I’m at Davos. Much talk of global inequality at WEF15 bit.ly/1C4s3lF but no focus on the way lawless violence widens the gap.” Three hours ago, someone was communicating the wide participation in the forum with a maliciousness that other could not miss:” 1700 private jets expected to descend on Davos2015 to discuss climate change at World Economic Forum”. Anyway, as another participant in the debate was communicating: “It’s all eyes on Davos at the World Economic Forum this week. See what’s on the WEF15 agenda: details-he.re/t6J15Y “
Communications of this kind have a broad audience. For instance, the Twitter of the former US Ambassador to Moscow, Michael MacFaul, has almost 100,000 followers.
Is Twitter developing in the political arena a different manner of fast communication, radically different to the previous one, even in the digital area? Apparently it is. Mostly as it puts ideas in circulation in the political field in a condensed form, by that avoiding as decision-maker, expert or regular political consumer the overwhelming inflow of information or prolix expert opinions of impermissible length for the current acceleration of time. Its ever-growing popularity is an indication that there is a secure future for Twitter (at least until a new communication application is invented).