Twiqs in Het Laatste Nieuws

In TwiNL on 21/05/2014 by admin

Het Laatste Nieuws On Wednesday 21 May 2014, Flemish newspapers Het Laatste Nieuws and De Morgen printed a summary of search results from related to the upcoming federal elections in Belgium of 25 May 2014. These include counts of mentions of politicians and parties and analysis of the sentiment of tweets that mention them. The study involves the time frame 1 May 2014 – 16 May 2014 and the full results can be found on this website (in Dutch).

We searched for full names (John Smith) in combination with twitter handles (@johnsmith), which are also frequently used as unambiguous reference to people. For one popular Flemish politician without Twitter handle, an abbreviation of his name (BDW) is used as reference, so we searched for this abbreviation as well. We found the highest number of references to the mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever (7556), with Flemish prime minister Kris Peeters as runnerup (6576) and former national prime minister Guy Verhofstadt (3443) in third position. Both De Wever and Peeters attracted considerable attention on Twitter during their televised debate of 11 May. There was even more attention for the debate between De Wever and his rival Paul Magnette on 13 May as can be seen in the attention graphs for De Wever.

The demographs of the people behind the tweets was interesting. Most tweets mentioning politicians were written by men (84%) and people of 26 years and older (63%). Few of the politicians were mentioned often enough to say something about the geographic spread of their fans. De Wever seems to attract attention from the whole of Flanders, with the exception perhaps of North Limburg which was more involved in discussing the local politician Wouter Beke.

We also estimated the sentiment of the tweets mentioning politician. Liesbeth Homans collected the most positive references on Twitter, primarily because of her habit to thank her followers (gratitude is counted as a positive sentiment by our software). Johan Vande Lanotte appeared on the bottom of this list because he was included in one or two popular retweets which were interpreted as negative by our software.

We also counted surnames which have the disadvantage that they could refer to many other people than the target politicians. Yet the same names appeared in the top three: De Wever, Verhofstadt and Peeters. For Verhofstadt it is worth mentioning that his name appears in tweets from outside Belgium, perhaps not surprisingly for someone that is running for the position of President of the European Commission.

In the party counts, the most mentioned names were PVDA, N-VA and Groen. However, PVDA is also the name of a Dutch politician party and Groen means green in Dutch so many tweets we found here will not refer to the Belgian political parties. The map for PVDA clearly displays this problem: many from the tweets with the party name are originating from The Netherlands. Without further analysis it will be difficult to determine accurate counts for these two parties.

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