Right-wing populism and Facebook as the political arena: A quantitative study on political engagement online
Abstract: Right-wing populism has spread across the European continent during the 21th century, this paper examines if this also is the case on the social media platform Facebook. Through the use of multivariate ordinary linear regression models the thesis seeks to answer if right-wing populist parties and leaders in 12 western European countries generate more followers on their official Facebook accounts than their non-populist competitors. The thesis finds that in both the case of political parties and political leaders the right-wing populists generate on average a larger number of followers. In addition to the findings a theory of possible explanatory value is presented which is based on emotional political participation. The fundamental idea is that people perform low-cost political actions because of anxiety, and this anxiety is caused by different politically charged subjects. What this means is that right-wing populists may attain support on Facebook because citizens feel anxious about the subjects that the populists control, however this anxiety may never turn into actual votes.
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