I spent the weekend looking at what people have been saying about the European elections. I’m quite sleepless but I want to share some of my findings with you before I leave for holidays tomorrow. In the middle of the day I was asked to send some comments about social media and the elections to Radio X (Brussels) for a programme they recorded with communications experts on the topic. Since I couldn’t write an extensive comment I took my phone and made a video comment.
This data is factual and the opinions expressed here do not reflect the position of my employer. Overall, I have collected and analysed over 1.2 million social media mentions related to the European elections. Most of these mentions were collected via Twitter, blogs and public Facebook posts. The pan-European hashtag for the elections #EP2014 was used over 583K times between 22/05 and 26/05 at 7:00AM on Twitter which is a pretty impressive result and went very close to my predictions ahead of the elections
— marcoRecorder (@marcoRecorder) May 26, 2014
In order to provide some context, in the past 30 days we could record roughly the same amount of mentions for #EP2014 and #Ukraine. Most used words together with #EP2014 Demographics of #EP2014 The biggest volumes of conversations were recorded in France, Italy, Spain and the UK. The most used languages recorded were English (29%), Spanish (21.7%), French(19%) and Italian (10.3%) Overall, at this stage (26 May, 7:00AM) discussions about the candidates to the presidency of the European Commission seem to be limited to the Eurobubble and to the countries of origin of the candidates. Most discussions on social media still focus on the results at the national level. This is quite normal. Most Member States have undergone change so it’s normal that people discuss national issues now. I suppose discussions on the candidates will go up again after the Council meeting tomorrow. The victory of the EPP was announced already on social media at around 11PM. Statements from the candidates were tweeted and multiplied through the night and thismorning.
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) May 25, 2014
I believe that the Spitzenkandidaten, who have been crossing Europe for the past few months, have helped raising awareness of the elections increase participation and eventually managed to reverse the decreasing turnout trend, even though by a small fraction. This proves the validity of the experiment to personalise the campaigns and focus them on European issues rather than allow national parties to turn the elections for the European Parliament into a referendum on domestic issues. “The campaign has actually taken on a life of its own,” LSE professor and chairman of the transparency organisation VoteWatch, Simon Hix, told EurActiv on Sunday night. “Schulz in particularly has turned this in a proper election campaign.” European Parliament spokesperson, Jaume Duch, announcing the result on Sunday evening.
The victory of Syriza in Greece gives a boost to Tsipras’ overall presence on social media. Tsipras was already the most mentioned candidate on Twitter ahead of the elections and recent data confirm his predominance on social media even while having roughly ¼ of Schulz’s followers on Twitter.
“Earthquake” seems to be the most trending keyword when monitoring Eurosceptic and the far-right in relation to the elections on social media. Apart from the actual natural earthquake that was recorded on 24-25 May across Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, the word “earthquake” has been used as a metaphor to describe the surge of Eurosceptic and far right parties.
There was a lot of anticipation on social media about the final figures on the turnout. The entire Brussels press corps awaited impatiently. See all here
Tweets about “Turnout AND #EP2014”
“For the first time it is going up and not going down as we have seen in the last 30 years,” said Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt after the provisional figures were released. Although there are some disappointingly low participation rates in several countries, higher than average participation in the larger member states has ensured a higher overall figure. This is all the more remarkable given the severity of the financial crisis that will have led many voters to stay at home or register their abstention.” The countries that suffered the most from the crisis turned up to the polls in force, with Greece hitting 57.4%, Ireland 51% and Italy 60%. The massive drop in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (the only two Member States who did not reach a 20% turnout rate) has been discussed significantly too.