Handbook of Political Party Funding
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Handbook of Political Party Funding

Edited by Jonathan Mendilow and Eric Phélippeau

Scrutinizing a relatively new field of study, the Handbook of Political Party Funding assesses the basic assumptions underlying the research, presenting an unequalled variety of case studies from diverse political finance systems.
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Chapter 8: Gated digital communities and the future of party funding

Jonathan Mendilow


Social media played a significant role in electoral campaigns conducted in several countries in the period straddling the first and second decade of the 21st century, notably in the US presidential contests for the elections of 2008 and 2012. However, adequate amounts of research had hitherto not been devoted to the part taken by social media in contemporary campaigns, and much of the research that concentrated on the question tended to be descriptive rather than explanatory. It tended to concentrate on ‘what happened’ rather than on the explanatory and generalizing attempt to establish casual links, generalize on their bases, and apply the outcomes to the understanding of trends in countries other than those which were the subject of the case study and to raise questions and hypotheses concerning the implications for the near future. This chapter examines the strategy that was adapted by the Trump campaign of 2016, its results, and the repercussions on political party funding. It then inquires whether we have witnessed similar phenomenon in ‘party-oriented’ rather than ‘candidate-oriented’ party systems, and to what extent do the questions raised by the US campaign apply to them. For this purpose, similar phenomena are briefly examined in Israel, Britain, and Germany and some questions about the implications for party funding in these different contexts are raised.

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