Andrea Römmele, Rachel K. Gibson
"Down Periscope": The search for high-tech campaigning at the local level in the 2002 German federal election

Journal on E-Government, 2005: 2, issue 3, pp. 85-109

This paper examines the growth of high-tech campaigning techniques among local level actors in Germany by studying website adoption among parties and candidates in the 2002 federal election. Arguing that election websites form a key tool of the new high-tech campaign trade we investigate the extent of their use at the local level as well as some of the triggers to their uptake and possible longer-term effects on campaign style, in terms of interactivity and independence from central party control. Our findings reveal that this form of high-tech campaigning is prominent across Germany and is promoted by factors linked to higher levels of local campaign activity more generally, i.e. party resources, competition and incumbency. Content analysis of sites, however, reveals little support for the notion that election websites are introducing a more participatory style of campaigning. Also, while some parties appear to be inclined toward controlling local actors’ message through the medium, for the most part candidates and parties appear to be left alone to develop their online profile.