Who Wants to Talk About Refugees and Why? Foreign Interventions in German Elections

25 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2019

See all articles by Ashrakat Elshehawy

Ashrakat Elshehawy

University of Oxford, Students

Nikolay Marinov

University of Houston - Department of Political Science

Federico Nanni

Data and Web Science Group

Harald Schoen

University of Mannheim - Department of Political Science

Date Written: July 15, 2019

Abstract

We use this the crisis set off by the arrival of asylum-seekers in Germany to test a theory of the use of propaganda as a strategy by a non-democratic state against a democratic state. We argue that a non-democracy on a collision course with a democracy will use propaganda discourse to punish recalcitrant elite, and will do so especially near elections while promoting frames that weaken the opponent’s institutions. We test these propositions on a corpus of half a million publications, covering Kremlin-backed media channels broadcasting in German, and German media. We find that Kremlin-backed channels are more likely to publish refugee stories near elections in Germany and that they push conspiracy theories at the expense of discussing economic or crime-related aspects of immigration. Our work has implications for the rise of propaganda discourse in Europe and beyond, and for democratic politics under foreign autocratic pressure.

Keywords: election intervention, propaganda, soft power, far-right, natural language processing

Suggested Citation

Elshehawy, Ashrakat and Marinov, Nikolay and Nanni, Federico and Schoen, Harald, Who Wants to Talk About Refugees and Why? Foreign Interventions in German Elections (July 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3420248 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3420248

Ashrakat Elshehawy

University of Oxford, Students ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

Nikolay Marinov (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

TX 77204-3011
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nikolaymarinov.com

Federico Nanni

Data and Web Science Group ( email )

Germany

Harald Schoen

University of Mannheim - Department of Political Science ( email )

Mannheim, D-68131
Germany

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