Pre-election Monitoring of Facebook in Slovak Information Space: What dominated the Slovak political and problematic scenes in August?
Just three and a half years following the previous parliamentary elections, Slovakia finds itself on the precipice of a critical moment in its political trajectory. SMER-SSD party, which is, under the leadership of Robert Fico, leading as the frontrunner in pre-election polls, is surrounded by substantive concerns about the party’s members’ entanglement in corruption, disseminating disinformation and spreading pro-Kremlin narratives, all while endorsing the suspension of military aid to Ukraine. Simultaneously, there is a surge in the popularity of extremist parties that in past harbored inclinations aligned with fascist ideologies.
Within this complex landscape, prodemocratic parties that came to power in 2020 elections also maintain presence. Their tenure in power, however, can be characterized as tumultuous – marked by political battles and governmental crises resulting in changes in key government positions including the prime minister, finally resulting in a care-taker government named by the President in May 2023.
The political instability further catalysed the feeling of insecurity among the population, fuelled by the Russian war against the neighbouring Ukraine. As the nation inches closer to September 30th, a date set for the upcoming preliminary elections to the Slovak National Council, the political scene is anything but dormant. Even amidst the summer, where political discourse often takes a lighter tone, the campaign trail is in full swing.
While the political candidates fight hard for the voters, they are not the only ones shaping voters’ decisions.
Equally influential are the narratives that echo within the online information bubbles, in which citizens actively navigate on a daily basis. Those are equally important to monitor and study, given the increasing influence of disinformation narratives that have taken hold in the minds of the Slovak public.
In this critical juncture, GLOBSEC has committed to delivering a series of insightful reports in the run-up to the elections.
These reports delve into the core of Slovak online discourse, dissecting the key narratives, themes, and influential figures shaping the pre-election conversation within Slovakia’s most frequented social media platform - Facebook. In the first two reports of our election monitoring initiative, the focus was centered on an array of subjects, namely problematic sources, prodemocratic actors, state institutions, and the Hungarian minority.
The present report plunges deeper into two groups - problematic sources and political actors (more on the selection of sources in the methodology on page 15) - and examines the information landscape that encapsulated the month of August with a time period spanning from July 29th to August 25th, 2023. Analysis was conducted on the top 20 most popular posts of each week, from both problematic sources and political actors, resulting in a comprehensive evaluation of 160 posts—80 from each category.