Rachel K. Gibson, Andrea Römmele
Regional Web campaigning in the 2002 German Federal Election


This paper examines locally based web campaigning by parties and candidates in the 2002 German federal election. The main goal is to provide a more systematic insight into why parties and candidates engage in the practice and how they differ in the content they produce. To do this we first review the literature on web campaigning and identify a range of spatial, structural and party-level factors that have been linked to an increased propensity to engage in Internet campaigning. We then test these explanatory variables with data from local party and candidate websites during the 2002 German federal election. Finally we undertake content analysis of the sites and investigate the extent to which differentiation in parties and candidates’ approach to using the medium can be related to party size and its overall goals. Our results show that electoral and political factors are more relevant to explaining the major parties use of the web, while socio-structural features of the constituency explain the minor parties’ activity better. Surprisingly little variance is observed in site content, but party size and outlook does appear to be linked to overall presence online than specific features of sites.