Illiberal Communication and Election InterventionDuring the Refugee Crisis in Germany

58 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2019 Last revised: 23 Feb 2021

See all articles by Ashrakat Elshehawy

Ashrakat Elshehawy

University of Oxford

Konstantin Gavras

University of Mannheim

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

Populist discourse - which tends to benefit anti-systemic parties - has been on the rise in the world’s democratic states. While much of it is home-grown, some is produced by external actors. Powerful non-democratic states have both the means and the incentive to spread it to democratic states. We clarify the incentives illiberal states have to produce such communication, and delineate how this type of political communication fuses traditional state-to-state propaganda with election interventions in democracies. We draw on the case of Kremlin- sponsored communication on the issue of refugees in Germany to illustrate the mechanisms though which the discourse operates in target countries. We create a corpus of over a million news stories to identify the prevalence of propaganda and its timing relative to Germany’s elections. We discuss the broader implications for the use of directed political communication as a form of election intervention.

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

Suggested Citation

Elshehawy, Ashrakat and Gavras, Konstantin and Marinov, Nikolay and Nanni, Federico and Schoen, Harald, Illiberal Communication and Election InterventionDuring the Refugee Crisis in Germany (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 ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

Konstantin Gavras

University of Mannheim ( email )

Mannheim, D-68131
Germany

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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