If Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign website echoed Barack Obama’s, both in feel and design, check out this site for South Africa’s Democratic Alliance Party. The DA copies the Obama logo as closely as any foreign campaign I’ve come across. Plus, the main message splashed all over its webpage and in the party’s TV ads—“change.”

          

As part of a feature story I’m writing for the April issue of Politics, I’ve been examining how foreign campaigns are using online technology. The biggest takeaway so far is that most are simply copying the Obama model, then closing their eyes and hoping for success.

The African National Congress—the ruling party in South Africa—also has a retooled website specifically geared toward campaigning. There, the imitation is mostly in the name: myanc.org. The country will elect a new National Assembly in April, which will, in turn, select the country's next president.

On the party’s blog, ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte acknowledges the political debate over the online approaches of the parties...

There have been vast amounts of ink (and pixels) spilled about whether or not Party A or Party B is successfully copying the Obama strategy, or whether copying the Obama strategy is a good idea. But mostly the hand-wringing has been about whether political parties are engaging in exclusivist, elitist election campaigning when most South Africans don’t even have a computer.

It reflects a tension I’ve come across in my reporting on a number of countries where access to the internet is disproportionate to just how much parties are using it for campaign purposes.

Plenty more on how this is playing out in other countries in our April issue, but I’ve found that it’s way too much to digest into just a couple thousand words anyway. I hope to make it a continuing conversation here on the Campaign Insider blog. So if you come across something of interest from a foreign campaign, send it along.

Shane D’Aprile is senior editor at Politics magazine. sdaprile@politicsmagazine.com