Home

This year’s elections in the United States have been hugely present on social media, and in fact, most presidential campaigns are dependent on a vast social media audience. More so than ever, social media is used to reach a vast audience, and especially attempts to appeal to the younger voters. We’ve all seen our fair share of strongly-worded, heavily-opinionated tweets by Trump’s official Twitter account, and the influx of political posts flood Facebook news feeds daily. Has this kind of social media use become a global norm in the political sphere, or is the U.S. the exception and not the rule? Specifically, have the politicians in the Czech Republic been as present, or as reliant, on social media as Americans are – and how does the youth react? 

image

Much like the other candidates, Trump is very active on social media. In this era, social media can have a major role in elections. Is this political social media use as common in the Czech Republic? (picture from Newsday.com)

Election years are the clearest cases to demonstrate the political use of social media and how it is utilized in campaigning. The most recent presidential elections in the Czech Republic were in January of 2013, and though certainly not as much as present day, the development and use of social media was still in full swing. According to a BBC News profile on media in the Czech Republic, about 36% of Czechs were using social media by 2013 (in 2015, it was closer to 50%). During the election, the two top runners were Milos Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg, and their campaigns utilized media differently. Zeman focused on traditional media like television, newspapers, and live debates, and even criticized social media campaigns for their limitations. By contrast, many experts attribute Schwarzenberg’s initial successes to his social media outreach. One source states:  “…social media proved to be an efficient instrument for mobilization especially of the younger segment of the electorate, plus the voters from cities and larger towns. Without the support of these groups, Karel Schwarzenberg would most probably not have achieved such a great and surprising result in the first round” (Patrut 242). Just like traditional media, social media is capable of targeting and capturing different audiences, as was evident in Schwarzenberg’s early popularity.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 6.29.03 PM.png

Karel Schwarzenberg’s current official Facebook page. Social media was an integral part of his campaign while running for Czech president in 2013. (picture taken from Facebook)

It would be too easy to assume that the candidate who utilized social media would receive the most votes and emerge victorious. He did not.  At the end of January of 2013, Milo Zeman was elected president of the Czech Republic. Despite virtually ignoring social media, he wins the majority by around 55%. Though Schwarzenberg was popular and his use of social media was a relatively effective campaign, the “Facebook generation” eventually had a low voting participation, and the likes on Schwarzenberg’s posts did not transfer into votes. The audience (and age group) who gravitated towards traditional media forms were more likely to vote.

 

130128ln

Milos Zeman was elected president of the Czech Republic in 2013, despite virtually ignoring social media as a part of his campaign. Targeting more traditional media forms, his audience had a higher voter outcome than Schwarzenberg, his opponent. (picture taken from Czech newspaper)

 

I asked an NYU Prague RA what she remembers from the 2013 elections, and she says the majority of the information she acquired was primarily from social media and the Internet. She supported Schwarzenberg and even participated in some of the public events, and she did in fact go vote. Here I revise the original question and pose it for future political events: are social-media-active millennials who actually go vote, like this RA, the exception, or the new rule? In current days, several Czech politicians (like the Czech Republic’s State Secretary for European Affairs) are present on social media – but the upcoming 2017 Czech Republic elections will illustrate more definitively how social media will impact and intertwine with their modern politics.

n-VOTE-628x314

Social media has clearly become greatly involved on the political scene worldwide; but will the millennial generation that uses social media the most actually go vote? (picture by Huffington Post)

This year’s American elections will face this issue, and we won’t quite know the answer until our next president has been elected and the voting statistics have been analyzed. It seems that the U.S.’s Facebook Generation is highly aware and educated on the politics; but we too are at risk for the tendency towards political slacktivism.  A survey on this year’s elections showed that a third of 18-29 year olds in the U.S. learn about the elections with social media (this stat surprised me – I thought it would be higher). Bernie Sanders in particular is extremely popular amongst this age group, so his youth voting participation is being watched very closely. Though much can change in three years, Schwarzenberg’s failed candidacy demonstrates the possibility of this happening to Bernie. “Feeling the Bern” or not, how many of those 18-29 year olds will close their computers, go out, and vote?

Advertisements

One thought on “Is Social Media as “Huuuuge” in Czech Republic Politics as it is in America?

  1. I have definitely been thinking about this a lot. The use of social media in the elections has been insane for the U.S. I’ve seen so many people (mostly college students) who are constantly posting about their opinions on the candidates. They are all really pushing for people to go out and vote. And there was a period of time where I was really questioning whether all of these people were actually going to do it. However, unless everyone just went the voting booths and stole the “I voted!” stickers, then for the most part, my Facebook feed is active in the election. I’m not friends with any Czech people of Facebook.. Which makes me wonder whether or not they post as many opinion articles and videos of their favorite (or least favorite) candidate’s debates as we do in the U.S. I suppose for the most part we’ll have to wait until the heir next election to see how much the number of politically active social media users there are. I didn’t realize until reading your article that our candidate are so much more active on social media than th have been in the past. However, I feel that Trump is the only one that feels the need to tweet stupid duff as much as he does. The only thing I’ve really noticed about Bernie’s social media presence is his use of it to make rally’s of his well-known, such as the one that took place in Washington Sqaure Park that had a crazy turnout, despite his loss im the primary .

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s