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From Gdańsk to Kraków: Monitoring the Polish elections in the digital sphere

The Polish parliamentary elections concluded on Sunday, and despite the ruling Law and Justice party receiving more votes than Tusk’s Civic Coalition, the latter is now more likely to form a functioning coalition. It was an election characterised by deep polarisation, with high-profile issues such as the rule of law crisis, the war on Ukraine, and migration dominating debates between the incumbent government and the opposition.  

How did these campaigns unfold online? Which political actors established themselves as opinion leaders? Which topics were most prominent? Using state-of-the-art social media monitoring techniques, researchers from Democracy Reporting International followed the political debate online, assessing the various trends and narratives that marked that contentious election.  

To share and reflect on our insights from the elections, we organised the online webinar “Political Discourse from Gdańsk to Kraków: Monitoring the Polish Elections in the Digital Sphere”. You can stream the recorded event here:  

 

Monitoring the polish elections

In addition to our DRI research coordinator Jakub Jaraczewski who, amongst others, anlysed the rule of law challenges throughout the elections we were joined by the following experts:

  • Filip Pazderski, head of the democracy and civil society programme at the Institute for Political Affairs 
  • Aleksandra Wójtowic, disinformation analyst at NASK National Research Institute  
  • Bartosz Wieliński, deputy chief editor from Wyborcza.pl 

Beatriz Saab, research officer at our Digital Democracy team, moderated the conversation.  

Some key aspects of the election campaign were discussed: the role of fear in PiS’s election campaign, how women and youth shaped this year’s election outcomes, and the interplay between offline and online campaigns. Throughout the conversation, it was highlighted that, while PiS still won the majority of votes, their well-funded social media strategy also brought a backfire effect. On the other hand, by focusing heavily on its political opponent Donald Tusk, who heads the major opposition Platforma Obywatelska (PO), PiS's negative campaign probably lost sight of its own content for some voters. 

In addition to the panel discussion, Francesca Giannaccini and Tobias Kleineidam from the Digital Democracy team guided attendants through DRI’s social media monitoring dashboard as well as main findings from our first and second Polish election briefs. The presented findings focussed on what topics were discussed in what tone throughout the elections and which parties and politicians tried to capture certain topics, such as the discussion about migration. 

 
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This work is supported by

Stiftung Mercator