The mayoral candidates on the web: La Stampa publishes the Alkemy Lab’s study

Alkemy Lab, within the DEEP project, analyzes the popularity on the web and the use of social networks of the candidates who fought to become mayors in Roma, Milano, Napoli and Torino. The analysis is carried out in collaboration with Gianni Riotta, Catchy, DtoK Lab e Kode

The second ballot is not far anymore. It will concern big cities like Roma, Milano, Napoli and Torino. The new campaign, which started on June 6, goes today through its most critical moments: among those who look for winners and loosers; those who blame the “people” for choosing the populist way and those who fight to defeat their opponents at the second ballot.

In this mood, La Stampa publishes the article “Hashtag e campagne social, la battaglia sul web infiamma i candidati”, signed by Gianni Riotta and based on the analysis that Alkemy Lab carried out in collaboration with Catchy and with the contribution of DtoK Lab and Kode, within the DEEP project.

The study wants to analyze and narrate, through the storytelling of Gianni Riotta, candidates’ and citizens’ use of social networks and web researches a few weeks before the poll, when they were getting ready for the elections of June 5, 2016.

The analysis focused on the weeks before the first ballot and on the candidates who actually reached the second ballot: the two politicians and managers Beppe Sala and Stefano Parisi in Milano; Virginia Raggi who exceeds by ten points Roberto Giachetti in Roma; the beloved mayor Luigi de Magistris and the Forza Italia candidate Gianni Lettieri in Napoli and, in Torino, the mayor Piero Fassino and the Movimento 5 stelle candidate Chiara Appendino.

The analysis of small data from social media

A study on Facebook analyzes the trend, in the weeks before the ballot, of the average amount of likes for each couple of candidates who reached the ballot.

In this way, it was possible to understand the Facebook popularity of the candidates in the days between April 18 and June 6. As you can see from the graph above, the candidate who succeed the most for the average amount of likes is Virginia Raggi. It is evident from this study the polarized activism created by the Movimento 5 stelle’s supporters. In the last days before the ballot, they dedicated themselves to set up and spam the closure of the electoral campaign in Piazza del Popolo in Roma. The ten points distance from Giachetti seems to be confirmed by the fight for likes on Facebook.

This data ― it is important to remember ― refers only to the candidates who reached the second ballot: in fact, as we can read in “Equilibrio a Milano, Meloni attivissima a Roma: ecco chi si è mosso di più sui social network”, also Giorgia Meloni were very popular on Facebook, overcoming the Movimento 5 stelle candidate. If we analyze, in fact, the amount of reactions and likes obtained by each candidate in the week just before the ballot, we can indeed see on the top the Fratelli d’Italia candidate.

The popularity of the two roman candidates on Twitter seems almost equal, with an advantage of Virginia Raggi in the last days before the ballot. The analysis was obtained comparing the amount of mentions and hashtags of the two candidates.

Renzi’s support did not help a lot the roman and ASRoma fun Giachetti, who chose to speak about the real king of Roma Francesco Totti in order to get some votes. The ASRoma player, in fact, stated that he supported the roman candidacy for the Olympics: a farsighted goal to make the Capital city bright again. Soon Giachetti decided to use Totti’s sentence for his purposes: “The Olympics represent a historical opportunity for Roma, #Totti is right. Denying them because of fear could be a huge mistake #iocicredo”.

Virginia Raggi seems to be very close to the victory. In fact, some of the exponents of the parties which did not reach the second ballot - such us Salvini and Brunetta - adfirmed their opposition to Renzi in every cities. Nevertheless, It all depends on Virginia Raggi’s actions before June 19. The hashtag #vinciamonoi, soon turned into #vinciamopoi, ruled during the last European elections but it seems now far: has Movimento 5 stelle finally learned the lesson?

The head to head between Sala e Parisi on Twitter is strong. Their fight is about posts and likes.

In the first ballot’s result, Beppe Sala reached the 41,7 % against the 40,78% obtained by Stefano Parisi. This election is the last one in the big cities that testifies an old bipartisan politics. The candidates of Partito democratico and Forza Italia fought using the keypoints of their programmes: they both support policies that want to turn Milano into a smart, green and trasparent city. On one hand Parisi would like to invest in security issues and promote cultural areas; on the other hand Sala wants to take advantage of the Expo’s success in order to project Milano in an international environment. Many analysts did not imagine that Sala’s advantage over Parisi would have been so small. The first one who did not imagine this was Matteo Renzi who supported Beppe Sala saying: Winning is like scoring a penalty. Do not miss it.. Forza Italia, as Stefano Parisi said, parried the penalty. Now, back to the square one, we wait for the second ballot’s results. It is certain that loosing Milano would be a huge defeat for Matteo Renzi.

It is already in the news the Pd’s defeat in Napoli, where Luigi de Magistris and the Forza Italia’s candidate Gianni Lettieri reached the second ballot.

On Twitter, De Magistris’ popularity overcame Gianni Lettieri’s one during almost all the campaign. The strategy to blame the Premier did not affect negatively De Magistris’ campaign. Analyzing Google trend Alkemy Lab could see that during all the period there were some picks in the search for De Magistris precisely when he critizied Matteo Renzi. One of them was when in a long speech he declaired the need to give back power to the people of the South, telling Renzi to go back home. Also Gianni Lettieri wanted to distance himself from these words.

The Forza Italia candidate reached the second ballot with de Magistris, supporting topics that were important for people. He talked for example about public housing promising that they will become property of the actual residents if he will be the new major. Focusing on houses is often succesfll, as Silvio Berlusconi taught us.

The biggest advantage for the Partito democratico is now in Torino, where Piero Fassino did not win at the first ballot but he reached a good 41,83% against the 30,92% of Chiara Appendino. However, on Twitter the fight is open and it seems now to favour the 5 stelle candidate. Perhaps, it is linked with the different targets of the two campaigns.

As an old politician, Fassino has soon understood who was his real enemy, trying to fight with the same guns. That’s probably the aim of #chiediapiero, the hashtag that the Pd candidate used on Twitter to open a dialogue with the users - alike the famous #matteorisponde - trying to answer also through live videos.

A direct contact with the citizens, in fact, amplifies the small world’s effect that the Movimento 5 stelle love. They use a communication based on emotions and people engagement.

What did the candidates say on the social networks in order to become so popular?

Another study made by Alkemy Lab analyzed the hashtags that the candidates used in the last week before the first ballot.

It is interesting to underline the usage trends of social networks in general. A lot of candidates, for example, used a so-colled new media in order to mantain a direct dialogue with the traditional media: they use Twitter to suggest to their supporters to see the tv show where they will speak; to make people know what they said on Tv or to get the attention of journalists with their 140 characters’ slogan.

Moreover, some of the candidates focused on particolar elements of the campaigning: keypoints from their programme or hastags linked with their identity and values. In Roma, for example, the two candidates talked about corruption and transaperency. Virginia Raggi and Roberto Giachetti spoke about their subscription to the campaign “you know who you vote for”, a web petition which asks to the candidates to make public their curriculum vitae, their criminal records and a declaration with the possible conflicts of interest of their candidacy. Almost all the candidates who reached the second ballot, save Stefano Parisi, undersigned the petition. In Torino, the topics are jobs and integration: Chiara Appendino adfirms that her first step will be cutting for the 30% the bag-carriers of the politicians in order to create a fund for young people who want to enter in the #PMI; Fassino talks about the Austrian election underling his identity: “In #Austria xenophobil ideas were almost to win. We should answer to these threatens working on #integration and security”.

The social data cannot say for themselves who will win the second ballot, but they represent for sure one of the indicators on which analysts should focus when they talk about politics and, in general, about issues that concern human beings. People have always created networks, now also digital ones.

The analysis of municipal elctions’ maps

The municipal elections’ maps tell us about those who were preferred by the people at the first ballot and how many citizens decided to vote. The data belong to the June 5 election and the one before that.

The results in the Capital city see Virginia Raggi running both in the district where she was born (San Giovanni - Appio latino) and in the one where she actually lives - Ottavia. She wins with a big advantage in the sea area with a percentage of 43%.

Roberto Giachetti wins downtown, in the districts traditionally reacher - I and II - in contrast with the history of his party. Also Giachetti won where he was born, in the Gianicolo hill, above the famous prison of Regina Ceoli as a perfect roman.

In the XV district, where Gianni Alemanno ruled at the 2013 municipal elections, the votes where distributed between Raggi, Giachetti and Meloni.

In Torino, comparing the two maps we have immidiatly a clear immage that can be summed up through Chiara Appendino’s words: “#Fassino should worry about the 90 thousands votes he lost from 2011 [ … ]”.

Napoli’s situation is different. In the Pianura and San Pietro a Patierno areas Gianni Lettieri keeps the advantage he got in the last elections. In the central and reach areas, instead, De Magistris shows his strenght. What will he do with the suburbs? Maybe Lettieri’s programme is stronger in these areas.

Milano is still homogeneously divided between Sala and Parisi. The area which seems to take a side is the 3rd district, where Sala overcomes Parisi for 6 points. In the last municipal elections this was also the area who supported Pisapia the most.