Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Fine Gael, Brazil and Ravi Singh

January 4th, 2011 · 40 Comments · Elections, General Election 2011, Irish Politics, Social Media

As we know from the last time Fine Gael launched a website things are never as they seem and techies and website developers discovered that Fine Gael had a little help for their design from a freelancer who used BBC code in the design.

It is no different with the site launched today according to a visiting chicken who showed me that this page has a line of cut and paste code in Portuguese .

< h3 class="succesHeading">Muito obrigado! Com você, o Brasil pode mais!< /h3 >

Muito obrigado! Com voce Brasil pode mais!

which roughly translates as Many thanks, Let’s build a Better Brazil. In fact if you search for the portuguese phrase in – Fine Gael are ranked first.

This phrase is linked with the Brazilian Social Democratic Party Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira, PSDB. (The party have observer status at the Christian Democrat Organization of America and Centrist Democrat International which would make sense from the Fine Gael point of view) The party members are known as Tuscanos and the phrase was satirised by (opponent) President Lula during the 2010 election campaign.

This all leads us to Ravi Singh who you will remember was in Dublin in December offering advice to Fine Gael. Hence why we have a line of portuguese in the website.

Ravi worked for the PSDB in the Brazilian elections last year and reviews of his efforts have been mixed – the party didn’t win. Given that the Brazilian campaign is part of Ravi’s recent portfolio and it is involved in some way in the Fine Gael website design it is interesting to take a look reviews of his work.

Eric Ehrmann writes in the Huffington Post about Singh’s work on the campaign.

Social Democrats hoped that Singh’s use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube would also be difference makers in Brazil and give Serra new credibility with the electorate. But Colombia’s political culture doesn’t skew with Brazil, and Singh’s methods are steeped in American retail politics where fundraising is job #1, K Street is pay street, and voting is something people do if they’re bussed to the polls or if it isn’t raining outside, one reason good Republicans pray for rain on election day. Ironically, Singh, who grew up in Chicago, got his start in US presidential politics as an adviser in the 2000 presidential campaign of George Bush, managed by Karl Rove.

Brazil’s democracy, meanwhile, features mandatory voting, a sixty day campaign period, and strict regulation of advertising and tactics. Since an electoral college is not part of the political landscape, presidential elections are decided by popular vote. The social media tactics that generated millions per day for Barack Obama hit the wall in Brazil, where tough laws limit campaign contributions and the game of retail politics is still won by candidates who press the flesh at the Ford plant in Bahia, not on Facebook.

Ehrmann continues sourcing reviews of Singh’s methods from Brazilian media outlets.

According to the influential Folha de Sao Paulo, Singh was viewed by some campaign insiders as a truculent personality parachuting into a society where harmony and team play are important values. His contract was not renewed.Others, according to Brazilian media, considered him a spam artist.

What all this means for Fine Gael’s campaign is still to be seen of course. The Irish election system is different from the USA and from Brazil. But very shortly some tech will be cleaning the new Fine Gael website of any portuguese code because that’s what they had to do the last time. No doubt when the story of the Irish General Election is told we’ll find out about all the outside help that the parties had and how much it cost. (Singh made about $1 million in Brazil). Those of you fluent in portuguese may find out more about his tactics and campaign and let us know! In fact the webbies may well find the original website!

I’m looking forward to the second phase of this where Enda will no doubt have brushed his hair and looks into the camera and reveals what his party’s policies are and brings back the website with the information voters actually need! Maybe he’ll be doing the samba?


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