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Research Note

Campaigning Online and Offline: Different Ballgames?

Presidentialization, Issue Attention and Negativity in Parties’ Facebook and Newspaper Ads in the 2019 Belgian General Elections

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2020
Keywords political advertising, Belgium, social media, newspapers, campaign
Authors Jonas Lefevere, Peter Van Aelst and Jeroen Peeters
AbstractAuthor's information

    This Research Note investigates party advertising in newspapers and on social media (Facebook) during the 2019 general elections in Flanders, the largest region of Belgium. The 2019 elections saw a marked increase in the use of social media advertising by parties, whereas newspaper advertising saw a decline. Prior research that compares multiple types of advertising, particularly advertising on social and legacy media remains limited. As such, based on a quantitative content analysis we investigate not just the prevalence of party advertising on both types of media, but also compare the level of negativity, presidentialisation, and issue emphasis. Our analysis reveals substantial differences: we find that not only the type of advertisements varies across the platforms, but also that social media ads tend to be more negative. Finally, parties’ issue emphasis varies substantially as well, with different issues being emphasized in newspaper and Facebook advertisements.


Jonas Lefevere
Jonas Lefevere is research professor of political communication at the institute for European Studies (VUB) and assistant professor at Vesalius College, Brussels.

Peter Van Aelst
Peter Van Aelst is a research professor at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp.

Jeroen Peeters
Jeroen Peeters is a PhD student at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp.

Rania Hamad
Rania Hamad is a PhD Candidate in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh, UK researching the causes of hate crime and effective responses.

Gael Cochrane
Gael Cochrane is Learning, Development, and Innovation Lead at Community Justice Scotland, Edinburgh, UK. Contact author: Rania.Hamad@ed.ac.uk.

Lode Walgrave
Lode Walgrave is Emeritus Professor of Criminology, Leuven Institute of Criminology, KU Leuven, Belgium. Contact author: lode.walgrave@kuleuven.be.

Robert Peacock
Robert Peacock is Professor of Criminology, University of the Free State, South Africa. Contact author: peacockr@ufs.ac.za.

Petronella Maria Boonen
Petronella M. Boonen is the Coordinator of restorative justice projects for the Center for Human Rights and Education (www.cdhep.org.br), São Paulo, Brazil. Contact author: pmboonen@gmail.com.

Jee Aei (Jamie) Lee
Jee Aei Lee is Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, Justice Section, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna, Austria.

Yvon Dandurand
Yvon Dandurand is Professor Emeritus in Criminology, University of the Fraser Valley, and Fellow and Senior Associate at the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform, Vancouver, Canada. Contact authors: jeeaei.lee@un.org; Yvon.Dandurand@ufv.ca.

Mark Walters
Mark Walters is Professor of Criminal Law and Criminology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK. Contact author: Mark.Walters@sussex.ac.uk.

Christa Pelikan
Christa Pelikan is a senior researcher and senior consultant with the Institute for the Sociology of Law and Criminology in Vienna, Austria, she has been a founding member of the European Forum for Restorative Justice. Contact author: christa.pelikan@irks.at.

Tim Chapman
Tim Chapman is an independent researcher and trainer and chair of the European Forum for Restorative Justice since 2016. Contact author: info@timchapman.eu.

Gerd Delattre
Gerd Delattre was head of the TOA-Servicebureau by DBH e. V. in Cologne/Germany for over 20 years. He is considered a pioneer of victim-offender mediation in Germany.

Christoph Willms
Christoph Willms is assistant to the head of the TOA-Servicebureau by DBH e. V. Contact authors: gerd@delattre.de, christophwillms@web.de.

Susan Sharpe
Susan Sharpe recently retired from her position as Advisor on Restorative Justice at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA. Contact author: ssharpe1@nd.edu.

Aleksandar Marsavelski
Aleksandar Marsavelski is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia.

Ali Gohar
Ali Gohar is the founder of Just Peace Initiatives, UK and Pakistan (http://www.justpeaceintl.org).
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