A look at some of the major elections around the globe in 2012. And this year’s biggest viral phenomenon "Gangnam Style".
2012: a year of elections
From France to the US, from Senegal to Mexico 2012 saw a stream of countries across the globe holding presidential elections; elections closely followed by web users from the countries concerned.
Russians took to the polls back in March to elect their new president, with Vladimir Putin emerging victorious, despite suspicions of fraud, and returning as president after a four year absence. The parliamentary elections held a few months prior had triggered major protests in the streets, prompting the government to install web cams in polling offices across Russia to monitor the presidential vote. But this not prevent voting irregularities, there were numerous reports of suspected fraud. This footage for example appears to catch polling station officials red handed as they stuff ballot boxes.
And with Russian voters endeavoring to ensure that electoral code was respected, the French did their best to skirt regulations. French law prohibits the publication, by the media, or any web user in the country of voting results or early estimations before 8pm on Election Day, when polling offices close. Feeling the law was outdated; bloggers took great delight in defying this ban during both rounds of France’s presidential election back in May. Twitter users shared messages about early exit poll results under code words, many under the hashtag “radio Londres”, in reference to the messages broadcast to resistance fighters in France over Radio London during World War Two.
And shortly after François Hollande’s election, the people of Egypt also took to the polls to elect their new president. An historic election, and in the wake of the revolution, it was the first step forward in Egypt’s difficult political transition. An eventful election, won by Islamist candidate Mohammed Morsi. And as soon as he had taken office, a site called “Morsimeter” was set up, monitoring his political action by listing the campaign promises he was keeping or had kept and those still waiting to be honoured.
Barack Obama was granted another four years to implement his program. The American president was re-elected in November following a presidential campaign that inspired all sorts of online parodies. Clint Eastwood became something of a laughing stock when he spoke to an empty chair, an “invisible” Obama, during a speech at the Republican Convention in August. The incident sparked a new Internet craze, known as “eastwooding”, which saw web users posting photos of empty chairs or posing alongside one.
Chinese citizens did not get to directly elect their new leaders, but this didn’t stop them taking to social networks to discuss the political transition and the country’s future head of state Xi Jinping. China’s Communist Party Congress opened in Beijing soon after the US presidential election, and naturally Chinese social networks were full of comparisons between the two political systems, with some posts calling for the introduction of universal suffrage for the next leadership election.
“Gangnam Style”: the viral sensation of the year
You’ve probably sung along to it, perhaps you’ve even tried to imitate the dance moves. Either way, you’d have been hard pressed to have missed the undeniable mega hit of 2012 “Gangnam Style” by South Korean performer Psy. The video became the most popular video of all time on YouTube, racking up over 1 billion views. It has also inspired countless online parodies…
Here’s one of the most recent spoofs to cause a buzz; made by students at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. There’s a lot of humour, a touch of self-mockery, and the words have been changed to highlight the work researchers do at the American Space Agency and on campus.
The song has also given rise to numerous “flash mobs” across the globe, like here in Paris, where amateur dancers, members of the public, assembled to perform the now famous horse dance before dispersing.
The world renowned dancing inmates of the prison in Cebu, in the Philippines also went Gangnam style, as we can see in this video, which soon went viral.
There have been so many takeoffs that one Canadian web user decided to compile them into this clip which features over a hundred different videos.