14 May (BNS) – New social media mediums have been winning growing support among Estonian MPs and one third of them have Facebook accounts, Esto-nian parliament Speaker Ene Ergma said at a European Union parliament speakers’ conference in Stockholm on May 14.
Ergma’s speech at the conference was on the issue of new technologies and communication channels. She said that the Internet had given politicians the channel and the opportunity to distribute direct and unmediated information. As a result, the citizens had received the opportunity to take part in different stages of the decision-making process and to influence its results. Participation and involvement had become much faster and more widespread thanks to the new opportunities.
She said that new social media were winning more and more support among members of the Estonian parliament, with 33% of the MPs having Facebook accounts, 27% keeping blogs, and 13% using Twitter.
She addressed online voting, mentioning its benefits and drawbacks, and pointed out that cybercrime had explosively increased in recent years and parliaments would have to set up a legislative basis that would help society cope with the shady side of an information society. “As the influences extend across borders, the solution must be international, at the level of a convention,” Ergma said.
But Ergma found that virtual politics and social communication was insufficient and could not replace traditional face-to face communication based on social networks. “Several indicators permit us to believe that the forms of traditional political participation will not disappear in the virtual world. Citizens want less formality and more immediate approach. They do not like to ‘look for truths’, they want explanations in ready-made form seen through their own eyes.”