Thursday

17th Jan 2019

Google to launch European Parliament election service

Google News is to launching a special service covering the European Parliament elections next June.

Drawing on the experience from a similar new service in the US presidential elections, the search engine giant is currently considering its approach to the upcoming European elections, communications manager Bill Echikson told a group of journalists at a press briefing in Brussels on Tuesday (7 October).

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Contacts directly with the European Parliament will soon be established, but a launch date is yet to be decided.

Google's US election service allows, among other things, users to search videos uploaded to YouTube's 'Politicians' category, including those of the official channels of candidates running in the elections.

Using speech recognition, the company can now let users search for exact words in the videos and jump directly to the specific parts. Quotes from the candidates can also be searched - and compared.

Aiding the voter sign-up effort, the service also lets American voters type in their address to find out when to register as a voter and where to go to cast their ballot.

One tricky problem for Google to overcome when moving the election services across the Atlantic, the company says, is the many languages spoken in Europe. Although Google's news service already offers links to news in 23 languages, the task still appears very daunting.

The announcement of the service Google should be welcomed by European political parties, who have long struggled to find pan-European themes that galvanise people to go out and vote in European elections. Turnout regularly near the 30 percent mark in several member states in the last elections in 2004.

Meanwhile, the internet is turning into an essential element of citizen participation in politics.

"The American 2008 presidential election marks the beginning of a new era for citizens and political campaigns. Voters are getting involved in the civic process because the internet makes political participation faster, simpler and more accessible," according to Google.

As many as 46 percent of Americans have used the internet, e-mail or mobile text messages to participate in the political process, according to the firm.

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