MP website research live!

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Leadership Monday, December 08, 2014 View Count = 1095

MP website research live!

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Second annual review of Members of Parliament’s websites continues to show MPs are not taking advantage of digital outlets to connect with Canadians.

For the second year in a row, an analysis of 299 websites shows that many Members of Parliament fail to use digital outlets to give citizens the ability to engage with politics or to share their views. Samara Canada, a Canadian charity that is dedicated to reconnecting citizens to politics, analysed MP websites on a 16-point checklist to see what information they provide and how they enable Canadians to engage with politics.

Key points:

  • MPs’ websites, on average, include 9 out of 16 items on the checklist
  • 86% describe MPs’ work in Parliament and 98% have a bio—indicating that MPs are good at broadcasting information about themselves
  • Only 19% of websites offer a place for constituents to comment (doubling from last year’s 9%)
  • Less than half offered an e-newsletter sign-up—down to 42% from last year’s 47%
  • Only 6% describe volunteer opportunities with the MP’s office  
  • Three MPs were missing functional websites (down from five in 2013)
  • 11 items showed an increase from 2013

For the 2014 analysis, two new items were added to the checklist: do MPs reveal their expenses online (77% of them do) and do MPs have a privacy policy for contact information gathered from the website (only 23% do).

“Since digital is growing in prominence year over year, we were disappointed to only see a modest improvement in the ways MPs use their digital offices to communicate with their constituents,” says Acting Director Jane Hilderman. “In an election year, when citizens are looking for opportunities to understand the role of Members of Parliament and connect with politics, the MPs’ websites could be a welcome source of information.”

Twelve Members of Parliament know the value of a good website and can check off at least 13 items of the possible 16. Click here to see whose websites were considered a Top MP Website.

See the complete analysis, an infographic of the results and top website tips for elected officials at http://www.samaracanada.com/research/current-research/2014-mp-website-analysis/2014-mp-websites-infographic

Methodology

Between May and July 2014, volunteers and Samara Canada researchers located and visited every Member of Parliament’s site (except the leaders and the five then-empty seats). Each site was analysed against 16 points, including the presence of a biography, hours of operation, and whether the MP described his or her work in Ottawa and in the riding. The sites were also rated on how they built connections with the public: whether they offered a newsletter, space for discussion, petitions/polls, and whether they linked to their social media. (See the Methodology page for more detail).



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