Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Data-driven Microtargeting in the 2015 General Election

By Dr.  Steve Patten

If there was any doubt, the 2015 general election campaign confirmed the arrival of the era of database politics. All of Canada’s major parties now rely on massive databases, data analytics and predictive modeling, and data-driven microtargeting to maximize their opportunities for electoral success. More than ever before, parties are able to derive intelligence on the electorate from polling and data mining, and this research informs party strategy, including the crafting of messages that are likely to win the support of key segments of the electorate.
But, parties have also built their own voter databases, sometimes called voter management systems, and these databases are used to identify those individuals who are likely supporters or could be persuaded to become supporters. The process of targeted communication designed to influence and mobilize identified voters is known as microtargeting.

Monday, 23 November 2015

After Paris we must ask ourselves: What Motivates Violent Extremists?

By Dr. John McCoy
For many of us who watched the recent events in Paris with a combination of fear, horror and indignation, the inevitable question we come to is “why?” Why do these individuals participate in acts of terrorism? What attracts them to violent extremism in the first place? Many of us ask these questions in the hope that the answers will lead us to strategies that can prevent future acts and restore our collective sense of security. 
But after nearly a decade-and-a-half of experience with post 9-11 counter-terrorism and countless academic and policy-based studies on the subject of what causes political violence, definitive answers remain elusive. Are these individuals driven by “structural level” factors such as social and economic marginalization, and discrimination?  Do these experiences create grievances that can result in violent extremism, or should we look more to political explanations? When it comes to movements like the so-called Islamic State (IS), or Daesh as they are more derisively referred to, are these individuals simply the product of humiliation and persecution born of decades of foreign intervention and economic exploitation in the Middle East? Do young Muslims project their own sense of persecution onto historical experiences with political and social oppression and exploitation?

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Fear and Loathing in Anatolia

By Emrah Keskin
Twitter: @k13e

I never liked Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current President of my country. Yet, for a long time, I was ready to give him and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) the benefit of the doubt. They seemed to have deserved it then, as the Army flexed its muscles for yet another bout of interventionism and the secular opposition remain obsessed about whether a head-scarfed first lady would taint Ataturk’s house that served as the Presidential residence.
Personally, I lost patience with Mr Erdogan upon hearing him during the budget talks in the parliament in 2010. He has a tendency to talk about government officials in possessive terms: “my mayor,” “my governor,” “my police” etc. I had optimistically assumed that such use was to express his sense of duty as the Prime Minister. Then, he refers to the mayor of Izmir –an opposition stronghold- by turning to the opposition’s seats and saying “your mayor.” It quickly became clear that Erdogan didn’t consider himself to be a servant of those citizens who don’t vote for him. He didn’t even consider us to be part of the nation. He kept referring to “those people.” “Those people” wanted unhindered internet because they wanted watch porn, “those people” opposed alcohol sale restrictions to get drunk all night, “those people” took to Gezi Park not to protect a lonely green space in a concrete megapolis but to stage a coup against the government.