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Failure to reach agreement in a recent international forum attests to the difficulty politicians have online. During the pandemic, some meetings that had been face to face have been attempted online. Political participants have had advantages of reduced travel and emissions, but reduced personal involvement may have made their work less effective. Traditional political skills can be difficult to deploy online: sensing of others’ feelings, friendly behaviour of supporting, joining, sharing and compromising. Creative proposing, finessing and synthesising could be less effective online, with fewer opportunities for rhetorical persuasion and less explanation of commitment conditions. 

Without face-to-face and group interaction, skills of representation, negotiation and diplomacy are in riskier waters. An effective online meetings culture could eventually emerge, but in the meantime the change to online encounters a challenging new environment where traditional political skills may not work and outcomes are controlled.

My writing on politics and government is on

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