News Column

EU Encourage Public Engagement Through Social Media

January 14, 2013

Hani Hazaimeh

Members of the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) in Jordan on Saturday encouraged the public to interact with the mission through its website and social media presence.

"We are always interested in what citizens think about the electoral process," EU EOM Deputy Chief Observer Dimitra Ioannou said in a statement to The Jordan Times, adding that the public can learn about the mission at its official website and on its Facebook and Twitter pages, and @eueomjo.

"Keeping in mind that this is the very first EU Election Observation Mission that has been deployed to the Kingdom, we believe it to be essential to communicate our approach to election observation to as many people as possible," Ioannou said.

"Considering the high number of Facebook users in Jordan, social media are for the EU EOM a crucial information vehicle in addition to traditional media such as newspapers, TV and radio. It is important to let people know that our methodology is based on an impartial, independent and objective assessment of the electoral process. We are here to observe, we don't interfere."

The mission is using its social media presence to post timely updates on its work and notify the media and the public of important events like press conferences and information sessions, she said, adding that chief observer David Martin's public statements on election day, the mission's preliminary statement two days later, and its final report two months later will all be posted on Facebook as well.

The Facebook page also gives the public a chance to communicate with the mission, Ioannou said, encouraging people to do so.

"From general supporting messages to people inquiring how they can assist the EU EOM, we have had everything in our inbox so far."

Ioannou added that many of the mission's 24 long-term observers in the 12 governorates as well as members of its core team in Amman were limited in their ability to conduct meetings over the past few days due to the heavy snow.

Also on Saturday, Renata Tardioli, the observer responsible for legal and human rights analysis at the EU EOM, said the mission's analytical work had begun with poring over the Constitution, the Elections Law, regulations and other documentation relevant to the elections.

Tardioli pointed out that the mission's work methodology in Jordan was not any different from that of EU observers in any other country, although they faced an additional challenge in that most documents were only available in Arabic.

"To translate legal terminology from Arabic into English can be very difficult," she explained.

"To have a consistent and coherent interpretation, the EU EOM developed an entire dictionary of legal and election-related terms specific to Jordan", her colleague Ron Herrmann said, adding that this dictionary is also being used by the long-term observers in the field as well as EU EOM assistants.

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Source: (c) 2013 the Jordan Times (Amman, Jordan) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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