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Research Note

Campaigning Online and Offline: Different Ballgames?

Presidentialization, Issue Attention and Negativity in Parties’ Facebook and Newspaper Ads in the 2019 Belgian General Elections

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 3 2020
Trefwoorden political advertising, Belgium, social media, newspapers, campaign
Auteurs Jonas Lefevere, Peter Van Aelst en Jeroen Peeters
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This Research Note investigates party advertising in newspapers and on social media (Facebook) during the 2019 general elections in Flanders, the largest region of Belgium. The 2019 elections saw a marked increase in the use of social media advertising by parties, whereas newspaper advertising saw a decline. Prior research that compares multiple types of advertising, particularly advertising on social and legacy media remains limited. As such, based on a quantitative content analysis we investigate not just the prevalence of party advertising on both types of media, but also compare the level of negativity, presidentialisation, and issue emphasis. Our analysis reveals substantial differences: we find that not only the type of advertisements varies across the platforms, but also that social media ads tend to be more negative. Finally, parties’ issue emphasis varies substantially as well, with different issues being emphasized in newspaper and Facebook advertisements.


Jonas Lefevere
Jonas Lefevere is research professor of political communication at the institute for European Studies (VUB) and assistant professor at Vesalius College, Brussels.

Peter Van Aelst
Peter Van Aelst is a research professor at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp.

Jeroen Peeters
Jeroen Peeters is a PhD student at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp.
Perspectief uit de praktijk

De lokale Facebookpagina als café

Een discussie over het bestaan van publieke plaatsen op het internet en de regulering daarvan

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 2 2020
Auteurs Dr. Willem Bantema
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Mayors struggle with their role in the digital and online domain. One of the aspects they encounter is online positioning. Positioning is an important factor in public order enforcement. Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam recently indicated that she is not only responsible for public order, but also for virtual public space. This contribution elaborates on online positioning and specifically on whether social media pages can be considered as public spaces. The analysis, which includes recent research in this area, shows that the definition of ‘public order and public space’ in the Dutch Municipalities Act certainly offers scope for an expansion to online places. The way in which internet users deal with data in practice does not stand in the way of this possibility. At the same time, it appears that online spaces differ from physical spaces, especially in the sense that positioning is difficult. Case law from Dutch criminal law shows that, in addition to the place, it is primarily the public reach and effect that determine whether or not it concerns a public expression. In addition to complex positioning online, there are other compelling arguments for not using the legal powers of mayors for maintaining public order on public spaces online.


Dr. Willem Bantema
Dr. W. Bantema is senior docent/onderzoeker aan de NHL Stenden Hogeschool te Leeuwarden. Zijn onderzoeksgebied is cybersafety & bestuurlijke handhaving en digitalisering.
Research Notes

Paid Digital Campaigning During the 2018 Local Elections in Flanders

Which Candidates Jumped on the Bandwagon?

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 3 2019
Trefwoorden local elections, candidates, campaign spending, digital campaigning
Auteurs Gunther Vanden Eynde, Gert-Jan Put, Bart Maddens e.a.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This research note investigates the role of paid digital campaigning in the 2018 local elections in Flanders. We make use of the official declarations which candidates are legally required to submit. In these declarations, candidates indicate whether and how much they invested in online campaigning tools during the four months preceding the elections. We collected data on a sample of 3,588 individual candidates running in the 30 municipalities of the Leuven Arrondissement. A multilevel logistic regression model shows that the odds of spending on digital campaigning increases among incumbent aldermen and local councillors. The latter finding supports the normalization thesis of digital campaigning. The results also show that scale is important – the more potential voters a candidate has, the higher the odds that the candidate invests in digital tools.


Gunther Vanden Eynde
Gunther Vanden Eynde is a doctoral researcher at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute. His research interests include political finance, campaign spending and the social media campaigns of Belgian political parties and their candidates.

Gert-Jan Put
Gert-Jan Put is a Senior Researcher at the Research Center for Regional Economics, KU Leuven. His research focuses on candidate selection and intra-party competition, and has been published in Political Behavior, Party Politics and Electoral Studies.

Bart Maddens
Bart Maddens is a professor of political science at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute His research interests include political finance, elections and multi-level systems. His work has been published in West European Politics, Party Politics and Electoral Studies.

Gertjan Muyters
Gertjan Muyters is a doctoral researcher at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute. His research focuses on candidate turnover and political careers.

Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen en onderwijscoördinator van de opleiding European Public Administration aan de Universiteit Twente.
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