Emerging Digital Democracy? Social Media and Sri Lanka’s Presidential Election 2015
This was the topic of a public talk I gave at the University of London on 12 Feb 2015.
It was organised and hosted by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London in collaboration with the Commonwealth Journalists’ Association (CJA).
They lined up the University’s Senate Room for the talk, which was attended by a South Asian audience who engaged me in a lively discussion.
Synopsis of the talk:
A record 81.5% of registered voters took part in Sri Lanka’s presidential election on 8 January 2015 in which incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated by his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena. The peaceful regime change has been widely acclaimed as a triumph of democracy and a mandate for political reform, improved governance and national reconciliation.
The election saw unprecedented use of social media by both candidates as well as by politically charged yet unaffiliated youth. How much of this citizen awakening can be attributed to the fast spread of smartphones and broadband? Did it really influence how people voted? What does this mean for future politics and governance in Sri Lanka?
In this illustrated talk, science journalist and new media watcher (and practitioner) Nalaka Gunawardene shares his insights and views.