This paper has been published as: Azi Lev-On (2011) Campaigning Online: Use of the Internet by Parties, Candidates and Voters in National and Local Election Campaigns in Israel. Policy and Internet 3 (1).
The fifteen months between November 2007 and February 2009 provide a unique window to examine the penetration and consolidation of the Internet as a medium for political marketing. In this period, no less than four country-wide elections took place in Israel: the general elections for the Israeli parliament (Knesset) in February 2009, and three rounds of municipal elections, one for mayors and heads of local councils in November 2008 (594 candidates), and two rounds of elections for regional councils, in November 2007 and January 2009 (108 candidates).
The article provides a bird-eye's view of Internet usage in these campaigns, differentiates between various political players in terms of their scope and character of Internet usage, examines the public reaction to Internet campaigning, and concludes with several consequences of the expected transformation of the Internet into a dominant medium for political marketing.
The data presented in the article portrays the Internet as an emerging medium for political marketing. The awareness of the Internet’s potentials exists, as well as the willingness to divert budgets for Internet campaigning. Parties' presence in a variety of Internet platforms confirms its perceived importance. In the general elections, almost all the parties involved used Internet sites, and so did half of the candidates in the municipal elections in the Jewish sector. Still, extensive differences in the character and scope of the political usage of the Internet are evident in a number of cross-sections: between the large and better-represented parties and smaller parties; between Internet uses in the general elections and in the municipal elections; and in the municipal elections, a group of socio-economic and strategic variables seem to impact the probabilities of having a website.