In Case You Missed It: The relationship between politics, tech and PR

Welcome toICYMI– a weekly snapshot of European news stories that have given me pause for thought. ICYMI is a chance for you to go beyond the front-page headlines and find out what other stories may be worthy of your attention. 

It’s election season in Europe, with the recent European parliament elections and multiple national elections set to take place in the coming months, including in the UK and France. Technology and innovation are often central to policymaking, offering hope and promises of growth to the electorate. Ambitious plans for the tech sector, or lack thereof, can have a huge impact on tech companies and the landscape they operate in. But technology itself can have a significant effect on the political environment too. Two stories from the past week highlight this relationship perfectly. 

Politics impacting technology 

L’Usine Digital published an article on the upcoming legislative elections in France, raising concerns among tech leaders about the potential impact on the country’s innovation policies. Olivier Martret from Serena Capital is quoted in the article, summing up the mood: “At best we will stand still, at worst we will go backwards”. 

The article highlights how France has been a tech success story in recent years, attracting considerable international investment and encouraging a pro-innovation environment. However, political changes could jeopardize this and halt pro-innovation policies crucial to sectors like AI and quantum. French startups, which rely heavily on foreign investment, could also find themselves in a precarious position if political priorities shift away from supporting innovation. In addition, public funding initiatives such as France 2030 and Tibi are seen as vital for sustaining the tech ecosystem in France, and any reduction in these funds could stifle growth.  

Attracting international talent is another concern highlighted in the article, as it is essential for driving innovation, but may become more challenging in future. It uses the UK’s post-Brexit scenario as a cautionary tale, arguing that France must remain appealing to international businesses and investors to avoid any disruption. 

Technology impacting politics

In Germany, ZDFheute described a recent cyber-attack on the CDU, the major centre-right party, as ‘the most serious attack on an IT structure that a political party in Germany had ever experienced’. The attack resulted in the unauthorised disclosure of applicant names through the CDU’s job platform, raising significant concerns about data privacy and cybersecurity within German political circles. 

It wasn’t just the CDU that was affected, with approximately 1,800 systems across various sectors, including transportation and healthcare, also falling victim to the attack. However, when voters are heading to ballot box, there is nothing like a high-profile breach or IT failure to make a party appear incompetent and raise questions over public trust. And if a party is running on a pro-technology and pro-innovation platform, the reputational damage could be fatal.  

Navigating a shifting landscape 

As the political landscape shifts, so too must an organisation’s communication strategy. For tech brands and PR professionals, it is crucial to monitor political developments across all European markets where they operate, helping clients understand how these changes can affect innovation policies and investment climates. Staying informed means being able to provide timely and strategic advice to clients, identifying opportunities and guiding them through potential challenges.