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Politicians go social. Estimating intra-party heterogeneity (and its effects) through the analysis of social media
Andrea Ceron and Alessandra Caterina Cremonesi University of Milan
Conference Paper
May 10, 2013

Scholars have emphasized the need to deepen investigation of intra-party politics in order to assess the effect of internal heterogeneity on the party and the party system. However, estimating the preferences of intra-party actors (e.g., party factions) is often a difficult task. Recent works shown that quantitative text analysis of documents drafted by intra-party subgroups can be a solution, but this strategy relies on the existence of such documentation. The striking rise of social media provides a substitute for that. In fact, politicians belonging to different party factions feel free to express their sincere preferences on social media (blogs) or social network sites like Facebook and Twitter. Taking advantage of these publicly released statements, we are able to assess the policy position of factions within the Italian Democratic Party (PD). Focusing on the 2012 centre-left Primary election, we show that factional heterogeneity measured through content analysis of social media helps explaining the politician’s choice to endorse or criticize one or the other of the two PD candidates running for the nomination.
Full paper and presentation here

 
 
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