Social media to increase political participation

Social media, young people and transparency of electoral processes were on the agenda of a workshop organized from 23-25 September in Erbil by the Iraq election commission with the support of the UN electoral assistance team.


Gender was also on the agenda as 60 percent of participants were women, a deliberate selection to support efforts by the UN to promote and enhance women’s rights and professional development within the Independent High Election Commission and the electoral process as a whole.

The event, which was facilitated by UNDP social media experts Jacky Sutton and Mostafa Saad, brought together IHEC officials and bloggers for three days to learn about the theory and practice of strategic communications in the digital era and to review existing IHEC social media platforms and website.

The IHEC staff members came from sections dealing with media relations, civil society engagement, observers, political entities, translation and the Board of Commissioners. Topics included accessible website design and management, writing for the web, digital security, digital metrics and analytics, and social media tools Facebook, Twitter, Talkwheel, Flickr and YouTube.

Along with a website (, IHEC also has a presence on Facebook (, Twitter (, YouTube ( and Flickr (
These were all established and are being managed with UN support.
With 12,710 “likes” the Facebook page is proving a useful tool to communicate and engage with voters, while the YouTube channel is the 9th most popular platform in Iraq, appearing alongside media channels and telecoms companies.

Social media use is growing exponentially in Iraq, particularly amongst its young people aged between 18 and 24. This is the demographic group with the lowest registration and voting rates who are reported in the media as disengaging from the country’s nascent democratic process.

According to Socialbakers analytics service, there are more than 4.2 million people a month using Facebook in Iraq, 75% of them male and just under a third in the key demographic for first-time voters.

Social media use is also widespread among political entities and candidates, particularly those appealing to urban or diaspora communities. Digital media platforms will therefore play a key role in political campaigns and electoral public outreach and voter education for next year’s parliamentary elections.

Last modified on Sunday, 29 September 2013 11:57

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