This research project is aimed at examining the role of Twitter as a platform of campaign communication during the 2014 EP Elections in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. While still overshadowed by Facebook in terms of penetration and popularity by the users, Twitter has been recently growing in importance for political communication in both countries. The 2014 EP Elections present a unique opportunity to a) learn about the actual ways political candidates and parties use this platform as part of their communication mix in election campaign, b) explore how other Twitter users engage with the candidates’ messages, and what kind of actors emerge as important influencers in the election debate on Twitter, c) examine the interconnection between the agenda of news media and the agenda of Twitter users during the campaign, and d) compare these findings between the two countries as well as in the broader European perspective.
Our preliminary research questions include following:
RQ1: How is Twitter used by the political parties and individual political actors to mobilize voters?
RQ2: Who are the political actors mainly interacting with on Twitter? Other party members, journalists, citizens?
RQ3: What kinds of topics and issues are most prominent in the election communication on Twitter? How is Europe/the EU represented in the content of the tweets?
RQ4: Who are the most prominent influencers in the debate? Activists, journalists, politicians?
RQ5: To what extent do the political actors manage to impose their agenda on news media through Twitter in the course of the campaign?
RQ6: To what extent does the communication on Twitter during the election campaign reflect the content of news media?
This research is an integral part of a comparative European-wide research project, led by researchers from Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen, and Ghent University. It currently involves 14 countries, which are all collecting the data within the same time period (15 April – 15 June) and using similar methodology.