Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Social media is the most widely used medium used by female candidates to promote their candidature for the third municipal elections.
In addition to the use of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, the Snapchat application entered the race as many candidates began using it to show their electoral platforms.
Women in particular are using social media as their best option in view of the regulations on campaigning for the elections.
Social media is also the cheapest way of campaigning, suiting the financial capabilities of the majority of candidates.
Speaking to a local publication, Hala Hakim, one of the female candidates said: “The majority of the female candidates chose the C category license which is limited to using media and publicity because it suits their financials.”
She said using social media to publicize for the municipal elections gives the candidate “a better chance to reach voters, especially since a high proportion of Saudis from all age groups consider such media outlets an important part of their daily schedule.”
She added: “It is difficult for most women to go to any campaign headquarters.”
Ahmad Bayoini, an information technology expert, said social media opened new doors for candidates to reach voters. “It became an integral part of the campaign drive. Internet in general has many features and options, such as establishing a special website for the candidate, or a page on any networking site which provides interactive methods such as video or direct contact with the targeted segment of society.”
He added that social media is considered a complementary means and candidates cannot depend on it totally without resorting to other traditional means such as meetings, seminars and lectures.
Hani Al-Ghamdi, a social consultant, demanded official television channels and radio stations broadcast special programs on the elections to give male and female candidates equal chances to display their political platforms and raise awareness on the municipal elections, and the importance of participating in it.
“We can see now that preparing for the elections by both candidates and voters, compared to the population is not satisfying.
This requires more awareness programs to familiarize the public on the municipal electoral process,” he added.
He said that if the official television and radio channels broadcast special programs on the municipal elections and gave equal opportunities to candidates, it would help in disseminating an electoral culture and help the people choose their candidates.