Spain

Spain’s far-right Vox party won the internet campaign: study

Shunning traditional media, the newcomer party's strategy is to target potential voters on social networks and generate as much of a buzz as possible, even if it's bad.

And it's working. Opinion polls predict that Vox will enter parliament for the first time in the parliamentary elections, in fifth place.

According to social media analysis group Social Elephants, Vox's messages on Twitter and Facebook generated the most interactions — referring to messages that are liked, shared or commented on — out of the five main parties over the past month.

More specifically, a third of all the five's interactions came from Vox. Ultra-nationalist messages that also bash illegal immigration and abortion, videos showing leader Santiago Abascal riding a horse or standing under the rain in a picturesque part of Spain: the party provokes as much enthusiasm as rage.

"They've awakened the beast," one admiring online user said this week, reacting to a video of Abascal predicting the end of the "liberal dictatorship" in Spain after the elections.

Spain was ruled by dictator Francisco Franco after its 1936-39 civil war until his death in 1975.

"They are so scary," said another concerned user.

Talk, even if negative

Relegated to the distant margins of politics until December, when it erupted on the scene in regional elections in southern Andalusia, Vox could get around 30 lawmakers out of 350, according to opinion polls. But analysts believe it could do even better, saying there may be many "hidden" Vox supporters who lie when asked by pollsters who they will be voting for.

Largely shunning traditional media, Vox has opted "for a strategy of direct communication through social networks, through rallies with lots of people," Abascal told Spanish radio this week. He said his party had felt "pretty badly treated" by traditional media in the past, which "distorted many of our proposals."

Ruben Durante of the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies said that "what matters to a party that doesn't have visibility in traditional media and doesn't have representation in institutions is that people talk about them, even if it's negative."

"Controversial arguments attract attention and in the end, they win, because those who criticise aren't those who would vote for them," adds the expert in social networks and democracy.

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On Twitter, Vox generated 1.1 million interactions over the past month compared to 886,000 for far-left party Podemos, which has always been very active online, according to Social Elephants.

That's also more than double the interactions of the Socialist Party, centre-right Ciudadanos and the conservative Popular Party (PP).

To top it all, Vox generated all those interactions by sending just an average of 11 messages a day, compared to 27 for Podemos or 50 for Ciudadanos. And it also has far less followers on Twitter than other parties: 240,000, compared to Podemos's 1.37 million, the PP's 705,000, the Socialists' 670,000Read More – Source

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