The potential impact of technology on the general election has dominated events and preoccupied analysts in recent weeks.
The principal question in the run-up to the first UK election since the rise of Web 2.0 and more intelligent mobile devices has been whether the political parties can harness the power of technology in the same way that president Barack Obama did in the US election in 2008.
Obama launched a social media strategy like no other politician had done before in an effort to recruit supporters and gain funding.
He used a custom-built social networking campaign site, as well as a carefully orchestrated presence on consumer networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach out to voters, without neglecting traditional media channels like television.
Obama came across as a tech-savvy politician, often spotted on his BlackBerry and maintaining a web site that offered voters what they wanted in terms of real-time information.
In contrast, commentators broadly agree that political parties in the UK are miles away from launching a similar strategy, and need to wake up to the power of technology, in particular Web 2.0, to stem the increasing tide of voter apathy.
Many observers have said that it is too late to implement a successful Obama-like strategy for the upcoming election, but that it is not too early to start preparing technology strategies for following elections.
Where the commentators disagree, however, is how the parties should use technology, and whether they should exploit the new social media platforms to 'crowd source' policies.
Denny de la Haye, an independent candidate for Hackney South and Shoreditch, believes that many politicians still do not understand social media.
"Of course, [the political parties] have access to well-paid consultants to explain and manage these [social media] things for them, but there have still been a few mishaps. David Cameron claiming that 'too many tweets might make a twat' will be hard to live down," he said.
De la Haye argues that the parties should urgently consider the impact of social media sites on the general election because real-time information has the potential to sway results.
"As the simplest example, we're already aware that it's possible to unbalance an election result by calling it early for one side or the other. It can work either way, by deterring and encouraging votes depending on the surrounding circumstances," he said.
"Social media has speeded up the news cycle to an almost instant feedback loop, and this is the first election that will really feel the effects from that."
De la Haye believes that members of the public who use social media heavily are likely to judge political candidates on their use of new technologies. He has promised that, if he is elected, he will set up an online poll for each issue debated by parliament and will abide by his constituents' collective decision.
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