USING THE VIRTUAL PUBLIC SPACE FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS CAMPAIGN OPPORTUNITIES, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global new normal in which social gatherings are largely prohibited, as a protocol against the spread of the virus. In Ghana, the government has responded to the threat of the virus spread by enacting the Imposition of Restrictions Act (1012), within which public gatherings are restricted. These developments have made the virtual space the new avenue for large social gatherings and public conversations. It is within this context that Ghana’s December 2020 Elections are taking place.
With the restrictions on public gatherings, political parties and election candidates are now compelled to rely heavily on the virtual space in engaging with the electorate. Unlike in previous elections, they are now almost wholly dependent on the virtual space for reaching large numbers of people.
Within this new electoral context, virtual media such as radio, television and Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp), and now, increasingly webinars, have rapidly developed into important mechanisms for public engagement. Virtual media have provided political parties with an efficient and effective means of reaching a wide audience. It is also facilitating easy interaction amongst the electorate.
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