A new phenomenon — weblogs by major politicians

A new phenomenon — weblogs by major politicians

My friend and colleague, Gerard de Vries, mentions in an email that two prominent dutch politicians are now running weblogs. And so it proves. Klees de Vries (no relation of Gerard’s) of the PVDA (Dutch Labour party) has one; Gerrit Zalm, of the VVD (Conservative party) runs the other.

This is fascinating, on several levels. For one thing, these are among the most important politicians in Holland and I find it impossible to imagine any comparable British politician being able to do this. For another, although I read Dutch with difficulty (and a lot of help from Gerard over the phone) both seem to be authentic weblogs. Zalm’s in particular has the authentic mix of personal, intellectual, trivial and self-indulgent content that characterises the techie weblogs I usually read (not to mention the one I write!)

Other thoughts: from a cynical point of view, weblogging could be a Very Smart Move for politicians (a) by enabling them to acquire street cred with a generation which thinks of established politicos as Boring and Sad; (b) by enabling them to project an image without having it diffracted through the distorting lens of steam media.

Zalm (a former Finance Minister) seemed such an unlikely Blogger that Dutch journalists began inquiring whether he had a ‘ghost Blogger’ who did it for him. He indignantly produced (and published in GIF form on his Blog) a scribbled note of the previous day’s entries to make the point that while he may not actually type the stuff (that’s done by a secretary), he does compose it.

And it’s working: according to the NRC-Handelsblad (Monday, Dec 2) the Gerrit Zalm weblog attracts between 5000 and 10.000 hits each day. From its inception it’s had 100.000 page-views in total. Not bad, given that Holland is a small country.

Thinks: there’s an interesting career opening for us Bloggers — becoming ghost bloggers to the rich and famous. Bags I do Dubya — unless Michael Moore hasn’t got there first.