Taking Europe home: how political agents stand out in their approach to Europe on social media.
Recents studies suggest the existence of a European Public Sphere, especially in the face of events of significant importance. In the scope of the Covid-19 crisis, this paper aims to study the platformization of the discussion on European topics by political agents such as politicians and political parties. Focusing on four Southern European countries – Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain – that have a common past history in their relationships with Europe (PIGS), we analyze political agents’ posts with the highest reach. The study was conducted on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube over a period of three months, between September and November 2021.
Regarding the platformization and the success of communication strategies, overall right-wing politicians tend to be more effective in capturing the attention and mobilising the participation of social media users on Facebook and Twitter. Different political groups stand out in the discussion of different European issues on different platforms. However, for most countries, the Economy, related to Europe, was the main subject with the highest reach addressed by the political actors, thus reinforcing the idea of Structural Europeanization. However, with most posts having a national scope, this does not contribute to strengthening the construction of a European Identity (Normative Europeanization). These findings are aligned with previous literature regarding European issues being first and foremost used as leverage for national political struggles, especially due to national and populist movements.