The European Political Twittersphere

:
Network of top users discussing
the 2014 European Elections
Axel Maireder, Stephan Schlögl (University of Vienna)
Florian Schütz, Markus Karwautz, Christian Waldheim (GfK)
Vienna, 26 June 2014
www.gfk.com/twitter
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
The European Political Twittersphere
Introduction
2
Twitter has become a major channel for pol-
itical communication, gathering the views of
traditional sources: the politicians themselves
and the news media, and also a diverse array
of commentators from bloggers and cartoon-
ists to NGOs.
The University of Vienna has combined forces
with GfK to research and map the reach and
scope of the European political Twitter-
sphere. In doing so, we are observing the
radical changes to public communication
flows it has induced. Rather than depending
on direct communication with the media and
journalists as intermediaries, political actors
can now engage with all of their stake-
holders, including the media, but also
including 'casual' consumers and citizens.
The study revolves around the European
elections held in May 2014. Twitter was an
integral part of the media mix for political
discussion and campaigning. Politicians,
activists, lobbyists, experts and journalists
used the micro-blogging service to exchange
information and engage in conversations on
current affairs.
In 2009, the year of the previous election,
Twitter was barely used for political purposes
in Europe. In five years it has become widely
used around the globe. Social movements,
such as the Arab revolutions in 2011-12, Occupy
Wallstreet in the US and Europe in 2012-13 and
the Gezipark Protest in Turkey 2013, have used
Twitter as a tool for the diffusion of infor-
mation, the mobilization of people and re-
sources, the organization and coordination of
action, and communication to the general
public. It is Twitter’s attributes of speed and
directness that will have consequences for
politics in modern democracies.
Creation of the Twitter network
Follower networks underlie the structure of
Twitter communication, they shape the flow of
information on Twitter. The networks emerge
from the aggregation of individual choices on
whom to follow - reflecting interest in the messag-
ing or keeping abreast of the opposition’s opin-
ions, and representing patterns of interests
between users. The network is generally stable
because the addition, deletion or replacement of
accounts tends to be gradual.
Contents
Key Findings, European Top 15
Study design
Network overview
Country clusters in detail
Top accounts by category
Summary
Credits
3
4
6
7
21
27
28
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
3
!
While the structure is defined by language and nationality,
political orientation is the most divisive factor within
nationalities. In Spain, Italy and France however, mainstream
political groups form one densely connected community,
regardless of left- or right-wing bias, and major opposition
groups and social movements form another distinct part.
!
At the center of the network lie accounts that are followed by
users from many different countries, including British news
media and EU-related accounts, but there are also important
new players - bloggers, cartoonists and extra-parliamentary
political groups who play significant roles in national
communication networks.
!
This strong European core is dominated by Western Europe,
with little Eastern European presence.
Account name Country Centrality
TheEconomist UK 18,748
BBCBreaking UK 18,258
el_pais ES 15,595
lemondefr FR 14,325
guardian UK 14,287
MartinSchulz DE 13,108
BBCWorld UK 12,961
EU_Commission EU 12,917
iescolar ES 10,462
elmundoes ES 10,383
_anapastor_ ES 10,347
AP US 10,313
WSJ US 9,638
publico_es ES 9,319
eldiarioes ES 8,839
EUROPEAN TOP 15
Centrality based on all 444,123 users included in the study
The European Political Twittersphere
Key Findings
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Study Design: Reconstructing
Twitter Information Networks
0
25000
50000
75000
Data retrieval
Calculation of the top accounts is based on the
444,123 users identified as participants in the
debate on the European Parliamentary
elections. Starting two months prior to the
elections, we collected 1,346,647 tweets that
contained the words ‘European election’ and
‘European parliament’ in all official EU lan-
guages [1] or used one of several respective
hashtags [2].
We retrieved the profile data for all those
users from Twitter’s API and calculated the
number of incoming connections for each
account (indegree).
Network analysis
All users that had sent at least two tweets on
the elections and had a centrality (indegree)
higher than 250 (a minimum of 250 incoming
connections) were included in the study. This
resulted in a network of 11,844 users (nodes)
with 2,084,207 follower relations (edges).
In addition to calculating each node’s cen-
trality, we analysed the broader structure of
the network using a clustering process [3].
This revealed that parts of the network were
more densely connected than others. Users
within a particular cluster are much more
likely to receive tweets from users of the same
cluster than from outside. Hence, the clustered
network represents the structural architec-
ture that shapes information flows and
communication patterns.
Tweets sent on
the EP elections per day
444,123 users sent tweets on the EP elections
A total of 1,346,647 tweets sent in 2 months
28 March 26 May
Election day 25 May:
266,134 tweets
Sent a minimum of 2 tweets
Minimum of 250 followers
in the network
11,844 core users
for the network analyses
Reduction of the user base
for the network analyies
Start of election 23 May
4
[1] According to the official translation on the main
webpage elections2014.eu
[2] #EP2014, #ep14, #eu2014, #PE2014, #eu14 and
several other country-specific Hashtags
[3] Blondel et al. (2008): Fast unfolding of
communities in large networks. arXiv:0803.0476v2
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Study Design: Reconstructing
Twitter information networks
Visualization
We visualized the network graph using the
Gephi software [1] and its ForceAtlas2 algo-
rithm [2]. The size of the nodes indicate their
centrality and their position reflects their
connections to other nodes.
The color of nodes and edges represent
clusters (p. 6-19) or the category in terms of
political system (p. 21, 22, 24).
For the latter, we manually coded the top
1,000 users based on their description and
assigned the categories ‘journalist’, ‘media
institution’, ‘politician’, ‘political party’,
‘activist’, ‘non-governmental organisation’ and
‘other’. The visualizations also show the names
of the most important accounts [3].
Interpretation
To interpret each network graph with par-
ticular reference to the composition of the
clusters, we scanned and contextualized
hundreds of major accounts. The network
graphs were then interpreted in the context of
major political developments, the EU election
campaigns and results.
Missing Accounts?
Some accounts, like that of Britain's Prime
Minister David Cameron, may appear to be
missing from our study, because our research
design included only those accounts that sent
at least two tweets mentioning the EP and the
elections. David Cameron, for example, did not.
The closer the nodes,
the more connections they share.
The bigger the nodes,
the more followers in the network.
A follows B
A B
B follows A
How to read the graphs
on the next pages
5
The next pages feature network graphs, essentially
nodes (representing accounts) and edges (representing
following).
But please keep in mind:
The network algorithm tries to adjust a multi-dimensional
network to a two-dimensional space. This sometimes results in
overlays of nodes that are not necessarily closely connected.
[1] http://gephi.github.io
[2] Jacomy et al. (2014): ForceAtlas 2. PLOS ONE 9 [6] e98679
[3] The selection of these accounts is based on their relevance
for the network and significance for the study.
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Overview: Network of Europe‘s
top 12,000 political accounts
SPANISH
ITALIAN
FRENCH
BRITISH & IRISH
THE CENTER
GERMAN &
AUSTRIAN
DUTCH
SWEDISH
FINNISH
DANISH
690 accounts, see p. 11
695 accounts, see p. 7
879 accounts, see p. 17
206 accounts, see p. 19
495 accounts, see p. 19
1,549 accounts, see p. 13
1,989 accounts, see p. 9
3,703 accounts, see p. 15
180 accounts, see p. 19
310 accounts, see p. 19
Nodes are accounts,
edges are follower relations.
Node size represents centrality.
Node colors represent
clusters/communities.
These are South American accounts
reporting and discussing the EP.
See study design for details.
6
Britain-based International News
media are right at the center of the
European Twittersphere
Portuguese and
Greek Accounts
The visualization of Europe’s political Twittersphere is
star-shaped. The center consists of accounts directly
related to EU politics, such as European Parliament
members and candidates and (mostly British) inter-
national news media.
The peripheral clusters are structured nationally,
representing the political Twitterspheres of single or
multiple countries. Direct connections between users
from certain countries exist and some accounts have
particular roles as transnational information hubs
(situated at the edges of, or in-between, clusters).
However, the accounts in the central trans-
European sphere are the most important in
terms of Europeanwide information diffusion.
Eastern Europe missing?
Only very few Eastern European accounts made
it into the study, due to three reasons:
1. Twitter is hardly used in Eastern Europe
2. Users did not have enough followers to pass the
threshold of 250 incoming connections (see page 4)
3. Users hardly tweeted about the EP elections.
The Spanish part of the Twittersphere is
the largest in terms of accounts
included in the study
11,844 nodes (Twitter accounts)
2,084,207 edges (follower relations)
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
EPPGroup
EU_Commission
BarrosoEU
JunckerEU
VivianeRedingEU
EuropeanVoiceEV
Andrew_Duff_MEP
GuyVerhofstadt
SkaKeller
ALDEgroup
Berlaymont
Hannes_Swoboda
BrunoBrussels
MalmstromEU
NeelieKroesEU
SpiegelPeter
OpenEurope
ecfr
ftbrussels
MatinaStevis
EconEurope
CEPS_thinktank
viEUws
EuroParlPress
euobs
JerzyBuzek
GreensEP
eurocrat
EurActiv
FriendsofEurope
jonworth
The Center:
News media,
EU institutions,
and MEPs
The Economist
Martin Schulz
AP
BreakingNews
hrw
BBCWorld
electionista
AJEnglish
Brussels-based
journalists and media
accounts are important
in the central cluster
Accounts in the central cluster
Accounts in the German cluster
Accounts in the British cluster
Accounts in International & Greek clusters
guardian
MBarnierEU
7
BRITISH & INTERNATIONAL
NEWS MEDIA
EU POLITICS
Only few Greek accounts have an
indegree higher than our
threshold. Those accounts form a
small cluster close to the center.
GREEK
! Martin Schulz and Jean-Claude Juncker are
heavily followed by users from all countries,
but particularly Germans
! Britain-based and international news media
are at the very center of the Twittersphere
! MEPs, EU officials and Brussels-based
journalists form a distinct EU-centered
community
The accounts of some
EU commissioners are
very prominent
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
The Center: News media,
EU institutions, and MEPs
8
Account name Description Centrality
EU_Commission EU Commission 1,805
BarrosoEU President, EU Commission 1,466
EPP European People's Party 1,132
NeelieKroesEU Commissioner, Digital Agenda 1,126
TheProgressives Social-democrat EP Group 1,100
VivianeRedingEU Commissioner, Justice 1,051
EuropeanVoiceEV EU-dedicated news 971
MBarnierEU Commissioner, Internal Market 959
EPPGroup People's Party Group 903
PES_PSE Socialists & Democrats 866
EU POLITICS TOP 10
Centrality based on the core 11,884 European users
The center of the European political
Twittersphere is occupied by a cluster of major
news media and a cluster of accounts
connected to the European Union. The official
account of the Commission and several
accounts of commissioners (Manuel Baroso,
Viviane Reding, Neelie Kroes) as well as several
MEPs are central nodes.
S&D front-runner Martin Schulz and Green
candidate Ska Keller are part of the German
cluster, but positioned very close to the center.
Schulz’s opponent in the run for the
Commission presidency, Jean-Claude Juncker,
has a high share of German and French
followers and is therefore closer to those
clusters.
The media accounts occupying a central
position include theEconomist, BBCBreaking,
AP and Guardian. Al Jazeera English (AJEnglish)
and the social media monitoring service
electionista are among the most central
accounts in the overall network.
Within the 'EU politics' clusters, EU-dedicted
media (EuropeanVoiceEV, viEUws, euobs,
ftbrussels) and Brussels-based journalists
(MatinaStevis, BrunoBrussels) are important.
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
lemondefr
afpfr
Elysee
libe
mediapart
Le_Figaro
Rue89
edwyplenel
BFMTV
LeNouvelObs
MLP_officiel
atlantico_fr
christineboutin
Marion_M_Le_Pen
GeoffroyDidier
FN_officiel
LaManifPourTous
Wks_69
quatremer
RIGHT-WING
MAI NSTREAM
NEWS & POLITICS
Although part of the right-wing
cluster, Front National leader Marine
Le Pen’s account occupies a more
central position due to her
comparatively large share of
international followers.
Mediapart‘s Edwy Plenel
is the most important
individual journalist
in the French clusters
FranceenGuerre
FrancoisFillon
ump
Bruno_LeMaire
leLab_E1
vpecresse
LaurentFabius josebove
Many UMP accounts are in the
mainstream cluster, but some
politicians have stronger connection to
the right wing cluster
The right-wing cluster
includes many anonymous
but politically explicit
accounts
russeurope
ElyseeMarine
Votre_Pere
! Presidential account Elysee
and news media are central
for the mainstream cluster
! Politician Marine Le Pen and
conservative bloggers are among
the most prominent
in the right-wing cluster
! Newspaper Le Monde
and Journalist Jean Quatremer
have many international followers
JLMelenchon
partisocialiste
Several politically left
accounts close to Jean-
Luc Mélenchon, leader of
the Partie de Gauche
MBarnierEU
evajoli
ThomasWieder
DominiqueReynie
DarmonMichael
Europe1
GTabard
Accounts in the mainstream cluster
Accounts in the right-wing cluster
9
French clusters: Separated
mainstream and right-wing networks
franceinter
samuellaurent
jeanmarcayrault
cecileduflot
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
The French Twittersphere is divided into large
mainstream and specific right wing sectors;
the latter dominated by politicians of the Front
National (MLP_officiel, Marion_M_Le_Pen) and
some of conservative parties (ChristineBoutin,
GeoffroyDidier)
The mainstream cluster includes official state
accounts (like elysee), major news media (libe,
lemondefr) and most politicians (Laurent
Fabius, Bruno_LeMaire, FrancoisFillion).
Because the websites of the newspapers Le
Monde and Liberation as well as Journalist
Jean Quatremer have an international
following, they appear at the edge of the
French cluster and are oriented towards the
European center.
Politicians of the Front National and some of
the UMP and other conservative parties as well
as conservative bloggers and organizations
dominate the right-wing cluster. A group
protesting homosexual marriage (LeManif-
PourTous) and a political cartoonist are among
the top-ranked users within this cluster.
In the light of the results of the European
Parliamentary election, which saw the Front
National gaining a large share of votes, the
structural division underlying Twitter
information flows is remarkable.
Account name Description Centrality
lemondefr Newspaper 1,759
afpfr Press agency 1,267
Elysee Office of the president 1,237
quatremer Journalist, Libération 1,234
libe Newspaper 1,179
Le_Figaro Newspaper 1,070
mediapart Online news site 993
leLab_E1 TV broadcaster 930
edwyplenel Journalist, Mediapart 905
Rue89 Online news site 900
FRENCH TOP 10
Centrality based on the core 11,884 European users
10
French clusters: Separated
mainstream and right-wing networks
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
BBC Breaking
guardiannews
SkyNews
SkyNewsBreak
Nigel_Farage
arusbridger
DanHannanMEP
afneil
BBCNewsnight
paulwaugh
AlbertoNardelli
GuidoFawkes
MrHarryCole
labourpress
politicshome
LabourList
FT
tweetminster
UKLabour
Independent
Conservatives
gdnpolitics
BBCpolitics
theSNP
WeAreNational
SCOTTISH
NATIONALISTS
UKIP
rtenews
thejournal_ie
British & Irish clusters:
Dominated by news networks,
divided by separatist groups
I RISH
Because UKIP Leader Farage is
followed by many users from other
countries, his account is positioned at
the periphery of the British network
UKIP politicians and supporters form
their own part of the network
Many Irish users follow British
accounts, but they are more
connected to each other, thus
forming their own community
Accounts in the British cluster
Accounts in the Irish cluster
Accounts in the
international cluster
BBCWorld
! Politicians and supporters of the
UK Indepencence Party (UKIP) and Scottish
Nationalists in separate agglomerations
! British news media are heavily followed
by British, Irish as well as international users
! Guardian‘s Alan Rusbridger and
entrepreneur Alberto Nardelli are
among the most important individuals
Because British news media are very important
in the overall European network, the British
cluster is close to the center
11
marklittlenews
labour
davidcochrane
kevinbakhurst
mickfealty
IrishTimes
gavreilly
haryymcgee
RTEnewsPaulC
economistmeg
SeanKellyMEP
CEO of Storyful Mark Little is
one of the few important
economy-related accounts in
the study
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
British & Irish clusters:
Dominated by news networks,
divided by separatist groups
BRITISH TOP 10
Centrality based on the core 11,884 European users
Account name Description Centrality
BBCBreaking TV broadcaster 2,029
guardian Newspaper 1,605
guardiannews Newspaper 1,114
BBCNews TV Channel 751
arusbridger Editor-in Chief, the Guardian 703
Nigel_Farage Leader, UKIP 678
SkyNewsBreak TV broadcast 611
BBCPolitics TV broadcast 558
AlbertoNardelli Co-founder, Tweetminster 549
tweetminster Social media service 542
12
The British and Irish clusters are located close
to the center of the overall network, because
British news media are heavily followed by
users from all over Europe. Media accounts
(BBC_Breaking, guardiannews, FT) and
journalists like Paul Waugh and Alan
Rusbridger dominate the British component.
Other major players are the political social
media tracking service Tweetminster and its
founder Alberto Nardelli, as well as right-wing
blogger Paul Stains alias GuidoFawkes.
Apart from the central British cluster, two
periphery agglomerations can be identified.
One consists of Scottish nationalist accounts
and the other includes UK Independence Party
(UKIP) members’ accounts. However, UKIP’s
leader Nigel Farage has a more central position
in the overall network because he has a large
proportion of international followers.
The Irish cluster is close to the British, because
many Irish users follow the accounts of their
neighbors. Besides mass media accounts
(rtenews, thejournal_ie), the journalists Paul
Cunningham, Harry McGee and David
Cochrain as well as economist Megan Greene
are followed by many politically-minded Irish
users. The highest-ranking Irish are
conservative MEP Sean Kelly and the CEO of
Storyful, Mark Little.
IRISH TOP 5
Centrality based on the core 11,884 European users
Account name Description Centrality
SeanKellyMEP MEP, EPP Group 265
marklittlenews CEO, Storyful 258
RTENewsPaulC Journalist, RTE 253
labour Party 242
rtenews TV broadcaster 235
Paul Cunningham
Paul Cunningham
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
micheledisalvo
Iddio
francofontana43
rinaldosidoli
Mov5Stelle
mentecritica
EnricoVerga
azael
OrbisTertius3
repubblicait
fattoquotidiano
beppe_grillo
SkyTG24
CorriereIT
Internazionale
RaiNews
la_stampa
lauraboldrini
NichiVendola
Italian clusters: Regional
influence in the mainstream
and a left-leaning cluster
BLOGGERS, SATIRISTS,
LEFT-LEANING
MAINSTREAM
Blogger Michele Di Salvo has a lot of
followers from both Italian clusters Accounts in mainstram cluster
Accounts in the 'bloggers, satirists,
left-leaning' cluster
Many central Italian accounts
are anonymous. Some make
political orientations clear,
others' descriptions are more
ambiguous
,5 Stelle‘ Leader Bepe Grillo is the
most prominent politician in
the Italian clusters
mariocalabrese
riotta
andreavianel
lucasofri
_DAGOSPIA_
AndreaScanzi
agorarai
tweetpolitica
FrancescoLamana
ilpost
HuffPostItalia
gualtierieurope
! Italy‘s Twittersphere is divided between a
mainstream cluster and a community of
bloggers, satirists and left-leaning politicians
! Party leader Beppe Grillo has the most
influential account and regional politicians
are surprisingly central in the Italian
mainstream cluster
! Besides the mainstream, bloggers and
anonymous satirical accounts are heavily
followed by Italian users
13
The account of the young daily
newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano
(established 2009) is the second
most popular media account
Regional politicians Nichi Vendola and
Debora Serracchiani are central nodes in
the Italian Twitter network
serracchiani fgoria
The accounts of journalist Fabrizio Goria as well
as politicians Gianni Pittella and David Sassoli
are positioned very close to the European center giannipittella
davidsassoli
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
The Italian accounts of the European political
Twittersphere are divided into two major
parts. The larger cluster includes mainstream
media accounts (repubblicait, fattoquotidiano,
RaiNews), politicians (lauraboldrini,
beppe_grillo) and experts (EnricoVerga), with
accounts of Laura Boldrini and Gianni Riotta
leaning towards the European center due to
their high number of international followers.
Additionally, regional politicians like the
presidents of Puglia (NichiVendola) and Friuli
Venezia Giulia (serracchiani) play an important
role within this mainstream cluster.
The accounts in the smaller cluster are a mix
of political satirists, bloggers, activists, and
politicians either leaning to the left of the
political spectrum or connected to the 5-Star-
Movement. The party account Mov5Stelle is
very prominent in the smaller cluster, as are
the bloggers Rinoldo Sidoli and Michele Di
Salvo as well as the anonymous satirical
account Iddio (Italian for god).
Some political commentators like Enrico Verga
and Andrea Scanzi are located at the edge
between the mainstream cluster and the
blogger cluster. The accounts of journalist
Fabrizio Goria as well as politicians Gianni
Pittella and David Sassoli have many
international followers and are therefore
positioned at the periphery of the Italian
Twittersphere, but close to the European
center.
Italian clusters: Regional
influence in the mainstream
and a left-leaning cluster
14
Account name Description Centrality
repubblicait Newspaper 736
beppe_grillo Leader ,Movimento 5 Stelle‘ 734
fattoquotidiano Newspaper 698
micheledisalvo Journalist & Blogger 685
SkyTG24 TV broadcaster 641
lddio Anonymous satirical account 629
NichiVendola President of Apulia 619
EnricoVerga Journalist, analyst, advisor 618
Corriereit Newspaper 605
HuffPostItalia Online news site 598
ITALIAN TOP 10
Centrality based on the core 11,884 European users
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
el_pais
luissalvador
TodaLaPolitica
Elpregoneeero
iescolar
publico_es
eldiarioes
agarzon
GLlamazares
europapress
elpidiojsilva
elmundoes
marianorajoy
abc_es
elconfidencial
PPopular
JoseantonioJun
La_SER
PSOE
_Rubalcaba_
ElHuffPost
_anapastor_
LaVanguardia
mdcospedal
JuanMalaga2011
JavierSolana
Europarl_ES
Spanish clusters:
A diverse sphere
with a strong center
CONSERVATIVES
RIGHT-WING
& LIBERAL
15M MOVEMENT
SOCIAL DEMOCRATS
PORTUGUESE
Only few Portuguese accounts
have an indegree higher than
our threshold. Those accounts
form a small cluster close to
Spain and the center.
CATALAN
The former "foreign minister" of the
European Union, Javier Solana, has a large
share of Spanish and international followers.
This explains his position between the
Spanish clusters and the European center.
Accounts in conservatives cluster
Accounts in right-wing & liberal cluster
Accounts in 15M cluster
Accounts in Social Democrat cluster
Accounts in Central clusters
El_Pais can not be attributed to a specfic cluster,
because it is equally followed by all Spanish clusters
This area of the
network has a majority
of Catalan accounts
vox_es
15
! The large Spanish
agglomeration is divided
according to ideologies
! The 15M social movement
has its own large cluster and
includes political activists
and regional politicians
! Users of all clusters follow
news media and journalism
accounts. el_pais is the most
influential
Prime minister Mariano Rajoy is
the most important politician, but
primarily followed by conservative
liberal and right-wing users
El Diario‘s Ignatio Escolar
is the most prominent individual
journalist in our study, although hardly
followed by users from other countries
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Spanish clusters:
A diverse sphere
with a strong center
16
The Spanish Twittersphere is the largest in the
network of European top users with of a total
of 3,703 accounts. It is composed of several
regions structured by the political orientation
of its users, as mentioned in many account
descriptions.
The largest group of Spanish accounts is
connected to the 15M social movement and
includes several accounts of political activists
and extra-parliamentary opposition
politicians. Another left-wing cluster is
dominated by accounts of the social democrat
PSOE party.
On the other side of the political spectrum, we
see a conservative cluster connected to the
Patido Popular and a right-wing/liberal
cluster which includes accounts dedicated to
the newly formed right-wing VOX party and
the liberal Movimiento Ciudadano.
The center constitutes both mainstream
media accounts (eldiarioes, elmundoes) and
journalists (_anapastor_, fgarea) as well as
some activists and politicians (agarzon,
AdaColau). The account of the newspaper El
País, which is the most prominent in the
Spanish cluster, is located closer to the
European center because of many
international followers.
A cluster with a large share of Catalan
accounts is also positioned relatively close to
the center, implying a smaller share of Spanish
and a larger share of international followers.
SPANISH TOP 10
Centrality based on the core 11,884 European users
Account name Description Centrality
el_pais Newspaper 2,066
iescolar Journalist, El Diario 1,717
europapress_es News agency 1,606
JoseantonioJun Mayor, Jun 1,561
elmundoes Newspaper 1,480
eldiarioes Newspaper 1,418
publico_es Newspaper 1,412
marianorajoy Prime minister 1,401
EFEnoticias News agency  1,366
_anapastor_ Journalist, CNN 1,359
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
SPIEGELONLINE
RegSprecher
zeitonline
netzpolitik
tagesschau
JanAlbrecht
Volker_Beck
tazgezwitscher
Piratenpartei
Die_Gruenen
SZ
sven_giegold
bueti
Europarl_DE
maltespitz gutjahr
KonstantinNotz
derfreitag
extra3
anked
ZDF
michelreimon
corinnamilborn
hubertsickinger
derstandardat
theeuropean
wblau
AUSTRIA
German & Austrian clusters:
EP-politicians and accounts
on digital politics important
Many Austrian users follow German
accounts, but they are more
connected to each other, thus
forming their own community.
GREENS
PIRATES
MEPs are very popular in
the German cluster of the
European Twittersphere
Wolfgang Blau, digital
director at the British
Guardian is positoned
between the German and
British clusters
While Chancellor Merkel has
no Twitter account, the
government spokesperson
Steffen Seibert is a central
node in the German network
Markus Beckedahl (netzpolitik) is one of
few European bloggers to have a very
prominent position in the network
! Pirates and Greens are very active
and form their own communities
! Accounts connected to digital
politics are important, in particular
the blog-account netzpolitik
! Germans and Austrians follow each
other a lot, but the latter are still
concentrated in a distinct part of the
network
17
Pirate party members were very actively
discussing the EP elections. Their accounts
are heavily connected to each other, with the
party account and EP candidate Anke
Domscheit-Berg in the center
JohannesPonader
netnrd
GoeringEckardt
misik
SebastianKurz
TomMayerEuropa
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
18
Politically active Twitter users from Germany
and Austria form a joint German-language
cluster, but the smaller Austrian part can be
easily identified within the network.
Additionally, there are noticeable agglomer-
ations of accounts dedicated to the Pirate
party and the Greens. Politician Anke
Domscheit-Berg (anked) and the party account
Piratenpartei are prominent in the former, the
Green MPs Volker Beck and Konstantin Notz in
the latter.
The centre of the German cluster includes
mainstream media accounts (SPIEGEL
ONLINE, zeitonline, tagesschau) as well as blog
accounts, most noticeably Netzpolitik, a blog
on Internet politics. Debates on digital politics
are very important, substantiated by blogs and
tweets from the Pirate Party.
German MEPs such as Reinhard Bütikofer and
Jan Albrecht play a major role within this
cluster. The most prominent German
politicians, the European front-runners Martin
Schulz (S&D) and Ska Keller (Greens), are part
of the German cluster, but located in the very
center of the European network because of
their international following (see page 7).
In the Austrian component of the European
Twittersphere, Minister Sebastian Kurz, MEP
Othmar Karas, EP candidate Michel Reimon
and the journalists Tom Mayer, Corinna
Milborn and Robert Misik are among the most
prominent users. The newspaper account
derstandardat has many German followers
and is therefore located at the edge of the
Austrian cluster. The most prominent Austrian
is Hannes Sowboda, who is located in the
central cluster (see page 7).
German & Austrian clusters:
EP-politicians and accounts
on digital politics important
GERMAN TOP 10
Centrality based on the core 11,884 European users
Account name Description Centrality
MartinSchulz EP front-runner, S&D 2,287
SkaKeller MEP, Green Party 726
RegSprecher Government spokesperson 658
JanAlbrecht MEP, Green Party 537
netzpolitik Blogger 532
zeitonline Newspaper 515
SPIEGELONLINE Newspaper 494
bueti MEP, Green Party 493
Europarl_DE German EP account 467
Die_Gruenen Party account 462
AUSTRIAN TOP 5
Centrality based on the core 11,884 European users
Account name Description Centrality
TomMayerEuropa Journalist, Der Standard 226
othmar_karas MEP, EPP 186
misik Journalist, Der Standard 184
sebastiankurz Minister of Foreign Affairs 173
michelreimon EP Candidate, Green Party 170
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Dutch & Scandinavian clusters:
Left-leaning politicians and
state officials on the top
JaapJansen
woukevscherrenb
martinvisser
WimvandeCamp
Europarl_NL
carlbildt
DUTCH
SWEDISH
DANISH
FINNISH
M_Wetterstrand Pihlblad
APechtold
JosHeymans
fritswester
brigittaohlson
niklassvensson
socialdemokrat
fjellner
falkvinge
geertwilderspvv
teirdes
Due to the vizualization algorithm
and lack of space, Danish and Dutch
accounts are very close to each
other in the overall visualization,
but they don‘t necessarily follow
each other a lot.
Dutch accounts
Swedish accounts
Danish accounts
Finnish accounts
marietjeschaake
SophieintVeld
pwolodarski
spietikainen ollirehn
alexstubb
Romakka
JuttaUrpilainen
jmpentikainen
AnniSinnemaki
MikaelJungner
HennaVirkkunen
HeidiHautala
Europarl_FI
sumuvuori
TuomasEnbuske
IdaAuken
MrMesserschmidt
vestager
SMSerup
KaareSorenson
christianfbach
DanJoergenson
SchaldemoseMEP
sofiecn
Heunicke
MargreteAuken
oestergaard
askrost
OleRyborg
EPiDanmark
JakobBeim
AnttiTimonen
ER_Korhola
Swedish Foreign minister Carl Bildt
and Finnish minister of European
Affairs Alex Stubb are important and
close to the European center
! Ministers and other state officials rank
high in the Scandinavian clusters,
including foreign ministers Carl Bildt
(Sweden) and Alexander Stubb (Finland)
! MEPs are very prominent in the Dutch
part of the Twittersphere, Sophie in 't Feld
and Marietje Schaake in particular
! Many left-leaning politicians have
central positions in Dutch and
Scandinavian clusters
19
Right wing politicians Geert
Wilders (Dutch) and Morten
Messerschmidt (Danish) rank high
MEPs are central for the
Dutch part of the
Twittersphere and are
positioned close to the
European center
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Dutch & Scandinavian clusters:
Left-leaning politicians and
state officials on the top
The Dutch area of the European Twittersphere
is dominated by politicians, including D66’s
Marietje Schaake and Sophie in t’Veld as well as
Bas Eickhout and Judith Sargentini from left-
wing GroenLinks party. Right-wing party
leader Geert Wilders ranks 11
th
.
In the Swedish cluster, the internationally-
connected foreign minister Carl Bildt outranks
all others, including his own wife MEP Anna
Maria Corazza Bildt. Birgitta Ohlsson, Minister
of European Affairs and several politicians of
the pirate, social democrat and moderate
parties are among the Swedish top users.
Expressen’s Niklas Svensson is the highest
ranking journalist.
Both the Danish and Finnish parts of the
European political Twittersphere have a
number of left-leaning politicians among the
top accounts. The highest-ranking Danish user
is the left-wing politician and EP candidate
Karen Melchior, who is positioned in the
central EU cluster because of her international
following. The party leader of ‘Radikale
Venstre’ Margrethe Vestager and her colleague
Ida Auken are other top-ranked Danish
politicians. On the other side of the political
spectrum, right-wing party leader Morten
Messerschmidt has many followers.
Additionally, three Danish ministers are
among the top users, led by the Minister of
Agriculture Dan Joergensen.
In the Finnish clusters, Foreign Minister
Alexander Stubb is on the top of the list. The
politicians Sipra Pietikäinen, Paavo Arhinmäki
and Mikael Jungner are are amongst the top
users, alongside Finland's EU commissioner
Olli Rehn. TV presenter Tuomas Enbuske is the
highest-ranking journalist.
DUTCH TOP 5
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Account name Description Centrality
MarietjeSchaake MEP, ALDE 706
SophieintVeld MEP, ALDE 487
JaapJansen Journalist, Pauw en Witteman 341
BasEickhout Politician, Green party 305
fritswester Journalist, RTL 304
SWEDISH TOP 5
DANISH TOP 5
Account name Description Centrality
carlbildt Foreign Minister 972
teirdes Politician, Pirate Party 328
birgittaohlsson Minister, EU Affairs 275
ghokmark MEP, EPP 221
Falkvinge Politician, Pirate Party 219
Account name Description Centrality
DanJoergensen Minister, Food & Agriculture 203
IdaAuken Politician, Radical Left 199
vestager Leader, Radical Left 188
SchaldemoseMEP MEP, S&D 187
MrMesserschmidt MEP, EFD 178
Account name Description Centrality
alexstubb Minister, foreign affairs 726
AnttiTimonen Political advisor, EPP 379
spietikainen MEP, EPP 309
ollirehn Commissioner, economy 268
Europarl_FI Finnish EP account 250
Sirpa Pietikäinen
20
FINNISH TOP 5
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Top 1,000 Accounts:
Many political parties, but low centrality,
individual journalists central in clusters,
many activists in Spain
Media institutions
Individual journalists
Political parties
Individual politicians
Government institutions
NGOs and activist groups
Individual activists
Other, not categorized
0
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This is the overview map of the European political
Twittersphere with the top 1,000 accounts colored by eight
categories reflecting the type of account.
Mainstream English-language
media are very central, because
their followers are distributed
through all clusters.
Individual journalists
are very important in
the French and Spanish
clusters
The account of the
Commission is the most
central governmental
institution
Spain has many
central political
activists‘ accounts
Top 1,000 by category
N
u
m
b
e
r

o
f

a
c
c
o
u
n
t
s
Mean centrality
3,620 2,530 2,550 2,632 2,208 2,522 2,866
Number of accounts in the top 1,000 by category.
Mean centrality based on all 444,123 users included in the study
21
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Political parties
Individual politicians
Top Accounts / Politics: Commission
and EP front-runners most prominent,
some regional politicians very central
S&D’s front runner Martin Schulz is first in the
politicians’ ranking, while his conservative
counterpart Jean-Claude Juncker ranks 10th. The
EU commission is well represented by its
president Jose Manuel Barroso (ranked 2nd) as
well as the commissioners Neelie Kroes (11th)
and Viviane Reding (15th).
Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy ranks third,
followed by his countrymen Alberto Garzón,
Rodríguez Salas and Gaspar Llamazares. While
the latter three are very popular on Twitter,
they do not hold high political office.
Likewise, regional politician and president of
Puglia Nichi Vendola is the second most
prominent Italian politician after Beppe Grillo.
Opposition and EU-critical politicians like Grillo
in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel
Farage in Britain are very popular on Twitter,
which allows them to attract attention
alongside mainstream media.
EP front-runners
rank high
martinschulz
marianorajoy
Nigel_Farage
JunckerEU
MLP_officiel
22
MBarnierEU
NeelieKroesEU
BarrosoEU
JoseAntoniaoJun
luissalvador
JLMelenchon
jeanmarcayrault
cecileduflot
beppe_grillo
nichivendola
lauraboldrini
JavierSolana
agarzon
GLlamazares
carlbildt
alexstubb
FrancoisFillon
LaurentFabius
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Account name Country Description Centrality
PSOE ES Spanish Socialist Workers' Party 5,808
EPP EU European People's Party 5,546
PPopular ES Peoples Party 5,031
pdnetwork IT Democratic Party 4,683
TheProgressives EU Progressive Alliance S&D 4,476
partisocialiste FR Socialist Party 4,418
EPPGroup EU European People's Party 4,306
iunida ES Left-wing political coalition 3,890
PES_PSE EU Party of European Socialists 3,866
Mov5Stelle IT 5 Star Movement 3,813
ahorapodemos ES Socialist party Andalusia 3,809
ump FR Center-right party 3,752
UKLabour UK Center-left party 3,547
ALDEgroup BE European liberal parties 3,261
Equo IT Green party 3,253
Partido_X ES Political party 3,121
UPyD ES Progress and Democracy Party 3,090
EELV FR Europe Ecology – The Greens 2,999
GreensEP BE The European Greens 2,990
Piratenpartei DE Pirate Party 2,936
ALDEParty EU European Liberals 2,871
sinistraelib IT Left Ecology Freedom Party 2,664
europeangreens EU The European Greens 2,626
Die_Gruenen DE The Greens 2,492
Conservatives UK Conservative Party 2,442
Top Individual Politicians Top Political Parties
Account name Country Description Centrality
MartinSchulz DE Leader, S&D 13,108
BarrosoEU PO President, EU Commission 8,793
marianorajoy ES Prime Minister, Spain 7,680
agarzon ES Politician, left-wing coalition 7,677
JoseantonioJun ES Mayor of Jun 7,566
beppe_grillo IT Founder, Movimento 5 Stelle 7,390
GLlamazares IT Politician, left-wing coalition 7,168
Pablo_Iglesias_ ES Leader, Podemos 6,974
Rubalcaba_ ES General Secretary, PSOE 6,489
JunckerEU LU Leader, European People's Party 6,296
NeelieKroesEU NL EU Commissioner Digital Agenda 6,202
lauraboldrini IT Speaker, Chamber of Deputies 5,862
NichiVendola IT President, Apulia 5,814
cayo_lara ES Leader, United Left 5,547
VivianeRedingEU LU EU Commissioner for Justice 5,480
carlbildt SE Foreign minister, Sweden 5,177
JLMelenchon FR Co-president, Left Party 5,082
jeanmarcayrault FR Debuty, Loire-Atlantique 5,001
CecileDuflot FR Politician, Écologie-Les Verts 4,954
GuyVerhofstadt BE Leader, ALDE 4,880
javiersolana ES Politician, Spanish Socialist Workers'
Party
4,648
Nigel_Farage UK Leader, UKIP 4,570
luissalvador ES Politician, Ciudadano 4,507
serracchiani IT President, Friuli-Venezia Giulia 4,488
LaurentFabius FR Minister, Foreign Affairs 4,376
MLP_officiel FR Leader, le Front National 4,373
Top Accounts / Politics: Commission
and EP front-runners most prominent,
some regional politicians very central
based on all 444,123 users included in the study based on all 444,123 users included in the study
23
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Top Accounts / Media:
Media institutions rank highest,
but individual journalists are important
The list of top accounts is headed by major
media companies, including the Economist,
the BBC and the Guardian who have an
international following. Likewise, Le Monde
and El País are very important for European
Twitter communication because they are
followed both within and outside France and
Spain respectively.
Spanish, French and Italian mainstream
media staff rank high in the category as do
individual journalists, with El Diario’s director
Ignacio Escolar placed first. Michele Di Salvo
(ranked fourth) is an exception, presenting
himself as “Blogger, writer, social media
geek“.
24
Media Institutions
Individual journalists
el_pais
iescolar
_anapastor_
The Economist
BBC Breaking
libe
lemondefr
guardiannews
FT
Le_Figaro
Rue89
LeNouvelObs
repubblicait
fattoquotidiano
CorriereIT
ilpost
SPIEGELONLINE
zeitonline
netzpolitik
Spanish, Italian and French
clusters include many high
ranking individual journalists
The European center consists
of media institutions
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Account name Country Description Centrality
TheEconomist UK Newspaper 18,748
BBCBreaking UK TV Broadcaster 18,258
el_pais ES Newspaper 15,595
lemondefr FR Newspaper 14,325
guardian UK Newspaper 14,287
BBCWorld UK TV Broadcaster 12,961
elmundoes ES Newspaper 10,383
AP US Press Agency 10,313
WSJ US Newspaper 9,638
publico_es ES Newspaper 9,319
eldiarioes ES Newspaper 8,839
europapress_es ES Press Agency 8,833
afpfr FR Press Agency 8,732
EFEnoticias ES Press Agency 8,677
repubblicait IT Newspaper 8,660
libe FR Newspaper 8,544
guardiannews UK Newspaper 8,301
BreakingNews Global TV Broadcaster 8,246
mediapart FR Online News site 7,944
fattoquotidiano It Newspaper 7,759
abc_es ES Newspaper 7,634
AJEnglish QA TV Broadcaster 7,477
La_SER ES Radio 7,439
20m ES Newspaper 7,393
FinancialTimes UK Newspaper 7,299
Account name Country Description Centrality
iescolar ES Journalist, el diario 10,462
_anapastor_ ES Journalist, CNN 10,347
edwyplenel FR Editor-in-chief, Mediapart 6,490
micheledisalvo IT Blogger 5,249
quatremer FR Journalist, Libération 5,163
jesusmarana ES Journalist, infoLibre 5,126
eziomauro IT Editor-in-chief, la Repubblica 4,916
JJBourdin_RMC FR Journalist, RTL 4,777
colominaM ES Journalist 4,732
carlosecue ES Journalist, El País 4,674
mariocalabresi IT Director, La Stampa 4,568
lucasofri IT Director, Post 4,555
AndreaScanzi IT Journalist, Il Fatto Quotidiano 4,453
riotta US Journalist 4,272
Fgarea ES Journalist, El País 4,185
vittoriozucconi IT Journalist, Corriere della Sera 4,070
rosamariaartal ES Journalist 3,735
a_lo_gonzo ES Journalist 3,712
VicenteVallesTV ES Journalist, Antena 3 3,698
giuliainnocenzi IT Journalist, Il Fatto Quotidiano 3,647
Agus_Martinez58 ES Journalist, El Diario 3,614
susannagriso ES Journalist, Antena 3 3,546
josecdiez ES Journalist, El País 3,476
EnricoVerga IT Journalist 3,423
ThomasWieder FR Editor-in-chief, le Monde 3,393
25
Top Accounts / Media:
Media institutions rank highest,
but individual journalists are important
Top Individual Journalists Top Political Media Institutions
based on all 444,123 users based on all 444,123 users
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Top Accounts / NGOs & Activism:
Human rights, digital governance and
left-wing social movements at the top
Account name Country Description Centralit
y
hrw Global NGO, human rights 7,249
AdaColau ES Founder PAH, NGO, financial crisis 6,303
democraciareal ES Movement, democracy reform 5,385
facua ES NGO, consumer rights 4,491
LA_PAH ES NGO, financial crisis 3,743
netzpolitik DE Blog, internet governence 3,740
caval100 ES Activist, justice 3,478
juralde ES Activist, environment 3,313
OpenEurope UK Think-tank, EU reform 3,120
attacespana ES NGO, ecomomic equality 3,103
Greenpeace_ITA IT NGO, environment 3,065
ecologistas ES NGO, environment 2,876
BeatrizTalegon ES President, NGO, democracy reform 2,837
FriendsofEurope BE Think-tank, EU reform 2,726
ARMAKdeODELOT ES Activist group 2,695
mariano9605 ES Activist 2,640
itoguille ES Activist 2,565
EMInternational BE Activist group, EU reform 2,461
subversivos_ ES Anonymous activists 2,400
JoseMCorrales ES Activist 2,356
Top 40 NGOs and Activist Groups
Account name Country Description Centrality
OccupyWallSt US Movement, economic equality 2,186
geopolytica ES Activist, right-wing 2,186
Demos_12 ES Movement, democracy reform 2,179
dryct40 ES Movement, democracy reform 2,132
iaioflautas ES Protest movement 2,119
ADICAE ES Movement, economic equality 2,005
OpenSociety Global Foundation, human rights 1,917
LaManifPourTous FR Movement, contra gay marriage
marriage
1,914
EuromaidanPR UA Movement, Ukraine protests 1,809
anticapi ES Movement, anti-capitalist 1,772
martuniki ES Activist, left-wing 1,761
laquadrature FR Advocacy group, digital rights 1,748
ioerror US Activist 1,737
federalists BE Movement, EU politics & reform 1,734
SocialcumbreS ES Protest movement 1,734
NonAuSocialisme FR Activist group, anti-socialist 1,730
CarnegieEndow US Think-tank 1,699
Coordinadora25S ES Protest movement 1,646
anticorruption Global NGO, anti corruption 1,632
Samuel_Lafont FR Activist, La Manif Pour Tous 1,621
26
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Conclusion
27
What does the Twittersphere
mean for modern
democracies?
How could Twitter affect Europe and European
politics? Twitter gains momentum around
specific movements and includes alternative
voices into the political game. Politicians
should not underestimate its power. As a
means for factions to organize and new
players to make their voices heard it is
unparalleled, but similarly it is important to
have something worth saying.
What does it mean for
journalism?
The mainstream news media have
established themselves with high follower
numbers and therefore central positions. The
internationality of some, such as the British
news media, guarantees a place, but it’s
interesting to note the lack of British
journalists in the top 25 accounts – many are
Spanish or Italian. An Italian may follow the
Guardian, but be less likely to follow an
individual Guardian journalist.
Many smaller and unexpected media outlets
are at the center of specific clusters; the
bloggers and cartoonists who offer a some-
times radical and unusual approach to
disseminating news and opinion. And while
regional media were found to be largely
missing, regional politicians and city mayors
gained a surprisingly large following, placing
them in the network.
Time to get Twitter-literate!
What is clear is the necessity for all those
involved in European politics to become
Twitter-literate. It has the propensity to
change power structures because it alters the
way information is disseminated, and now is a
pivotal time to understand its structure and
the network that underpins it.
What are the key takeaways?
We have seen the specific communication
environments – the clusters - where social
media actors come together. But equally
important are the lines of division between
network clusters – these represent the very
real political and social environment in each
country. In France, for example, all the
mainstream parties regardless of left or right
bias form a central cluster, and the Front
National and extreme right wing media form
another. This pattern is repeated in Italy, with
a left-leaning cluster of critics of mainstream
politics separate to the mainstream.
Some non-mainstream politicians, journalists
and bloggers have a lot of followers – perhaps
an indication of the need for entertainment in
politics. Twitter’s encouragement of
informality suits a more open style of
communication, and this suits clever opinion-
led tweets.
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK
Credits
The Department of Communication at the University of
Vienna is one of the world’s largest departments for
communication science. Main research areas include
political communication, journalism, advertising, public
relations, critical technology and media analysis, media
change, social media, the developments of communication
science methods and communication history.
http://publizistik.univie.ac.at
Dr. Axel Maireder is social media researcher at the
Department of Communication (University of Vienna). He
is principal investigator of TANEP, a project aimed at the
development of methods for the structural analyses of
networked public communication, in cooperation with the
GfK Global Social Media Intelligence Center and the GfK
Verein. http://axelmaireder.net
Stephan Schlögl is pre-doc researcher at the TANEP project.
GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and
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market research experts combine their passion
with GfK’s 80 years of data science experience.
This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights
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technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big
data into smart data, enabling its clients to
improve their competitive edge and enrich
consumers’ experiences and choices.
http://www.gfk.com
The GfK Social Media Intelligence Center (SMI)
offers global social media analyses setting new
standards in terms of accuracy, tailoring, data
integration (panels, trackers, sales, …) and
industry expertise. We strive to go beyond
numbers to offer actionable insights based on a
wide range of use cases. Through this we
empower  you to turn social media
conversations into meaningful business
decisions.
For more information please contact Christian
Waldheim (christian.waldheim@gfk.com)
Christian Waldheim is Global Head Social Media Intelligence
Florian Schütz is Global Head of GfK Social Media Intelligence IT
Markus Karwautz is Senior IT Specialist at GfK Global Social Media Intelligence
©2014 by University of Vienna &GfK

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