European Radical-Right 2.0 - Examining the use of Social Media by Western European Radical-Right Parties

GT 2.7 Crisis económica, cambio social y auge del populismo: efectos en los sistemas de partidos

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João Moniz (Universidade de Aveiro)
Sesión 2
Día: viernes,22 de septiembre de 2017
Hora: 11:00 a 13:00
Lugar: Seminario 2.2.

The economic and migration crisis in Europe, coupled with a growing disillusionment with the European Union created a fertile ground for the success and rise of the far-right political parties in Western Europe. In the 2015 legislative elections in Greece, the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn was the third most voted political force, obtaining 18 seats in the Hellenic Parliament. Some other examples come from Austria, where the Freedom Party barely lost, with 49.7% of the popular vote, the 2016 presidential runoff election, and more recently from France, with opinion polls placing the National Front as the front-runner for the first round of the French presidential elections.

However, radical-right electoral success is hardly a constant across the entire European continent. In some countries, these parties’ share of the vote in national elections has been stable or declined. Southern Europe countries, for example, have proved reluctant to flirt with right-wing parties. Although history may have a role in the misfortune of these political parties, how parties communicate with the electorate may also be an important variable to assess.

An important, albeit relatively unexplored dimension regarding the electoral (un)success of these political parties pertains the strategies used to convey their electoral platforms and messages. While established political parties tend do enjoy a privileged access to traditional mass media such as television and newspapers, outsider political parties - such as radical-right nationalist and populist parties – need to bypass traditional media and communicate directly not only to their electorate.

This article seeks to assess the extent to which radical-right political parties in Western Europe are using the Social Networking Sites, particularly the Facebook, to communicate with their followers. We aim to identify, through quantitative analysis, different political and social factors that might explain the level of activity on the Facebook accounts of the radical-right parties and the factors that lead to the involvement of citizens in the social media accounts of those political parties.

Empirically, this article draws on a comparative assessment of communication strategies of five prominent European far-right political parties and five right-wing parties with declining electoral success. Communication strategies are compared, considering both the content of the messages conveyed and how issues are framed; but also the involvement of citizens (number of likes, number of comments). 

Palabras clave: Radical right-wing political parties, Social Networking Sites, Communication Strategy, Political Parties