vendredi 23 mars 2012

NDP Leadership : a Twitter-view

There was something magical that happened to Thomas Mulcair’s Twitter and endorsement campaign at the start of March. When I started following the candidates in late January he was fourth among Tweets and Followers and was lagging behind. Within a few weeks, he was catching up to Nathan Cullen and might pass him before the weekend is up with the party’s top job at stake.

For their parts, strong starters Brian Topp and Paul Dewar were already high up in numbers by late January and weren’t able to add much to their totals adding 35% and 13% of followers in the next two months or so. But Mulcair was impressive here, as he now as more than 4458 followers, up 72% which is 16% more than the next place Cullen.

Cullen tweets a lot. Not as much as his colleague Françoise Boivin, but with about 1600 tweets to his record, he’s only a little ways back of the leader in this category Paul Dewar. Compare that to Martin Singh’s 67 or Mulcair’s 195 and the distance is impressive.

With that miniscule number in mind for Mulcair, it is clearly elsewhere that he has found support. Hundreds of people click his name each week to see what he says, even though he doesn’t say much. And he has been keeping endorsements for more recent times as well. My numbers give half credit for Twitter activity and half for endorsement points as counted by Éric Grenier of

The two ladies in the campaign have fared well online, but not exceptionally. Niki Ashton has used both an English and French account for the run, but lately has been Tweeting in French on the English account, focusing on the more popular one which I have counted here. Ms. Nash outranks Topp but seems to have been losing steam as of late.

At the very least, the candidates have been able to attract a following which will be useful for their long-awaited return to the House of Commons. For those hopefuls who are MPs, their long absence means that they will have to remember where their seat is – and only one will be switching spots with Mme Turmel who has seen her own Twitter following grow into something in the middle of the pack of this group.

While these numbers might not be able to predict the outcome, they do show some general trends in interest and in a convention setting, the person who is hot right now might get the extra votes. In that case, expect a lot of attention towards Thomas Mulcair but don’t give up on Topp or Cullen, one of them might end up as a kingmaker, or even a king.

(P.S. I'm working at improving my graphs!)

lundi 19 mars 2012

Craig Scott wins Toronto--Danforth on Twitter-front

The NDP candidate for the by-election in Toronto--Danforth is poised to keep the seat for his party if the results at the polls mirror the action on Twitter. While he is only slightly ahead of Green Party candidate Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu there, the popularity of his predecessor, the late Jack Layton, should give him the edge.

While the contest has been billed as a change for Liberals to get back into action with candidate Grant Gordon, he hasn’t come close to attracting the attention that Scott has. With 1349 Twitter followers, Scott leads Gordon who only has 1020. Still, Gordon has gained a higher percentage of followers since my tracking began back in February. He has 33% more followers than on February 17 whereas law professor Scott has 24% more. He started further behind and hasn’t come close to catching up.

Quiet throughout the contest has been Andrew Keyes of the Conservatives. As a communications specialist, he must know that there is little to gain in communicating with the constituency unless you are in the race. The Conservatives are seemingly opting to sit this one out just like certain GOP candidates don’t compete in Iowa instead focusing on New Hampshire in the primaries.

Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu is one of the top operatives of the Green Party’s office and as such, is one of their strongest voices. She has been active in sharing that voice with over 1000 Tweets to her name and with about 110 on average for each week of the campaign. A following has developed but there is still more than a Tweet per follower to her name.

Expect Scott to win as the overall NDP feeling in Toronto--Danforth continues.

lundi 5 mars 2012

Iceland’s Loonie Idea

When Montenegro unilaterally adopted the Euro a few years ago, they might have thought of themselves as clever; adopt another, more stable currency and avoid the hassles associated with money and a Central Bank as the new state came into being after its split from Serbia. The EU wasn’t too pleased and keeps reminding the Balkan nation about that fact. But Iceland’s look into adopting Canada’s dollar, and the general agreement it’s getting from across the Atlantic, is a different story, but one that might still unlikely to play out in the near future as Icelanders consider the implications of the move. Here are some thoughts.

This isn’t a new idea. When the krona collapsed back in 2008, there were cries to try the American dollar, or the Euro, or even the loonie. But after a few months, the loudest of those calls subsided. After the initial flurry of attention, even the support to join the EU went down a little bit. While I haven’t been back to the Island since leaving just after the 2009 election, I don’t suspect that Icelanders core values have changed. As Newfoundland learned when they joined Canada in 1949, taking big decisions has a lasting impact. But Iceland and Newfoundland were heading in different directions at the time and if Baldur Thorhallsson of the University of Iceland is correct, small states will look for a shelter in time of crisis. The question is, do they still really need an economic shelter three years later after reports have constantly indicated they are doing better than thought with their IMF loans?

From the Canadian side of things, it is fairly low-risk. With an educated population the size of Victoria, BC, Iceland will not be a liability despite their current economic woes. Alcan makes a lot of aluminum there and the largest population of people of Icelandic descent is in Canada, concentrated in Manitoba’s Interlake region. Still, the EU might have something to say with the fact that one of its candidate countries is adopting another currency as its own falters – or yet again they are probably too busy dealing with that already.

Finally, Iceland is a country that is simply too proud of its independence after hundreds of years of foreign rule, to simply give up such an integral part of its sovereignty. Unlike certain aspects of sovereignty which might be more obscure and intangible, dealing with cash is a daily activity (though Iceland has a great reliance on debit/credit) and there is a pride with the fish covered kronur coins that pay for Friday night beers on Laugavegur. If this is going to happen, it has to be soon as the Independence Party reorganizes after its last election failing; it’s the first time since the nation’s independence in 1944 that they don’t have the most seats in the Alþing and I doubt that they are too pleased about this.

What Iceland is searching for is stability and a look at the graph shows how far their discredited currency has fallen. During my time there between September 2008 and April 2009, it was even more volatile than the graph suggests as it was suspended from the markets and rates were whatever the banks chose. Despite the fact that it has stabilized lately, it has certainly not improved and greatly hinders thoughts of travel abroad for Icelanders. For Canadians, it could be a welcome addition, but Icelanders also need to think of the last time they gave up such a big part of their sovereignty, in 1262 to Norway, and how long it took before they once again became independent people.