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Study ‘The Populist Networks’ - Isabell Hoffmann

Brussels (Belgium), 11.09.2014

Thursday 18 September 2014

Panel discussion, Bertelsmann Stiftung

The European Parliament elections of May 2014 resulted in a rise of eurosceptics among the 751 MEPs chosen. The French ‘Le Front National’ (far right-wing party run by Marine Le Pen) even became France’s biggest party in Europe.

The question has been asked if this clearly recognisable anti-European feeling also shows on the Internet. Isabell Hoffmann of the Bertlesmann Stiftung studied the extent to which right-wing anti-European positioning on the Internet occurs in a number of countries (6) of the European Union and if it is interconnected, in other words, if the anti-European positioning in one country has a supportive and reinforcing impact on anti-European positioning in another. She came to the conclusion that this is not the case. Anti-European movements mostly keep to themselves and have networks, but these are generally limited to their own association within their national territory. An exception is the UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) which has links with other parties in the UK (the far-right British National Party but also the Tories for example) and is very much present in the media and has contacts with civil society associations.

On the other hand, there is a strong, interconnected pro-European network. Pro-Europeans exchange ideas, opinions and information and form a common philosophy through the Internet. This pro-European movement is very much alive and moreover benefits from the positive status granted by search engines to websites promoting the European integration.

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