Monday, July 20, 2009

Open Reichstag: YouTube at the German elections

Over the past few years, we've seen politicians and campaigns from around the globe use YouTube to broadcast their platforms, debate their opponents, and engage with their supporters. Following this trend, YouTube has recently become home to the German elections, as German citizens prepare to vote for a new government in September.

In a partnership with ZDF, the second-largest public TV broadcaster in Germany (13.1% market share), we created a special channel and concept for the occasion: Open Reichstag. As the name implies, the goal of this channel is to open the doors of the Reichstag, the parliament building in Berlin, to dialog and discussion, encouraging direct interaction between the YouTube community and members of the different political parties in Germany. For a start, we've decided to turn things around and have well-known politicians of the six key parties pose a "Sunday question" to the YouTube community. Here are a couple of interesting and creative responses:

One objective of this partnership is to bridge the gap between YouTube and television in order to reach a wider audience - during a four-month period, ZDF will incorporate selected video responses in different TV shows. The big finale will be on September 15th, when the YouTube ZDF election debate will air and six key politicians will be confronted with YouTube questions.

Open Reichstag has been live since the 6th of June and will accompany the elections all the way to Election Day on the 27th of September.

Based on the ideas of our group in Hamburg, our engineering team of two engineers and a UX designer built the channel in their 20% time (while based in Zurich, all three are German, go figure). It was built from scratch in just a few weeks, combining the power of YouTube and the YouTube API with technologies like Google Web Toolkit, App Engine and iGoogle Gadgets.

We hope you like it.

And if you're interested in learning more about the German political landscape, check out the YouTube channels of various German political parties. For example, see CDU TV, SPD Vision, FDP, Die Grünen or Die Linke.

Posted by Anne-Sophie Rachel and Martin Landers, YouTube German Elections Team


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