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Determining Political Harmful Narratives: Three-month Report

Harm-tive

22.07.24

Прегледи

Determining Political Harmful Narratives: Three-month Report

Period: March- May 2024
Short Version

Целосна верзија

The Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) published the three-month report from the research Determining Political Harmful Narratives (HARM-TIVE) which represents a sublimation of the data from the monitoring of the communication practices of the political actors in which harmful narratives were identified and their broadcasting in the media in the period March-May 2024. The report determines the toxic rhetoric before the presidential and parliamentary elections which took place on 24 April and 8 May respectively, as well as in the post-election period, when the results of the voting were published, i.e. the winners in the two election cycles, and the negotiations on the composition of the new government were already underway.

In the period March - May 2024, VMRO-DPMNE retained the first place with a total of 102 posts with harmful narratives (a share of 33% in the total number of harmful posts by political parties), but Levica, which in the period from September 2023 to February 2024 was third, has now moved into second place with a total of 90 harmful posts (29% of the total number). SDSM came in third place with 63 posts with harmful narratives (21% of the total number of harmful posts by political parties).

Among the political leaders, the president of Levica, Dimitar Apasiev, in the period March - May 2024, had the most posts with harmful narratives, a total of 32. In second place is Izet Medjiti from the Democratic Movement (17), and in third place is Afrim Gashi from Alternativa (15). Apasiev was also in the six-month analysis the leader with the most posts with harmful narratives. Medjiti was then in third place. VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski, who in the previous six months was in second place on the ‘harmful leaders list’, in the last quarter of the monitoring, with only two posts with harmful narratives, is in sixth place among the ten leaders.

In this quarter, two types of harmful narratives are most common: Biased selection (253 posts), when political parties in their rhetoric tried to mislead the public by hiding facts and presenting only selected data about certain situations and Undermining trust in the institutions of the system (239 posts) with which they consciously wanted to create insecurity and mistrust among citizens in the country. In third place, the most used harmful narrative among political parties is Fomenting divisions (81 cases).

Among the political leaders in the period of March‒May 2024, similar to the previous six-month report, the first two places belong to the harmful narratives of Biased selection (47 cases) and Undermining of trust (35), and in third place is the harmful narrative of Character attacks/demonization of the political opponent (31). It is noticeable that, although with less frequency, political actors this quarter also used Populism, Spreading fear and panic, Accusations of foreign influence, and there are also cases of use of Hate speech by some political leaders.

During this period, part of the members of the Government used the official channels for personal or party agenda, but also for accusations against political opponents. The monitoring determined a total of 58 posts with harmful narratives. The most harmful posts are noted on the Facebook profile of the First Deputy Prime Minister Artan Grubi (18 posts), in second place is the Minister of Justice Krenar Loga (15), and in the third place is the Minister of Economy Kreshnik Bekteshi (12). What was observed during the monitoring is a significant increase in posts with a harmful narrative by Loga and Bekteshi in May (from 2 in April to 10 posts in May by Bekteshi and from 3 to 10 in May by Loga). Regarding the types of harmful narratives that appear in the posts by government members, the analysis showed that they mostly use two types of harmful narratives: Biased selection and Undermining of citizens’ trust in institutions and the media. Less frequently they use harmful narratives of Fomenting divisions, Character attacks and Foreign influence. Although incidental, it is interesting to note that the harmful narratives of Ethnocentrism and Extreme patriotism were used in May by Kreshnik Bekteshi and Krenar Loga, while Spreading panic and fear in April by Artan Grubi and the Minister of Culture Bisera Stojchevska-Kostadinovska. Another interesting note is that the harmful narrative Foreign influence was only used by Artan Grubi during each month of this quarter.

In the period of March‒May 2024, there is a decrease in the total number of news items with harmful narratives on television and online media. During this period, TV stations recorded a total of 185 news items with harmful narratives, least during May (compared to March, a decrease of 35% was recorded‒from 79 to 51 news items). In this context, it should be taken into account that broadcasters are subject to obligations in accordance with the regulations during election processes (Electoral Code, Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services), as well as to regular and extraordinary monitoring by domestic and foreign observers, including and the media regulator, the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services. TV Alfa again has the largest number of news items with harmful narratives‒61 news items, although compared to the six-month report, it records an average decrease of about 30%. MRT 1 is the television station with the lowest number of news items with a harmful narrative (9 news items), in contrast to the previous six months when it was TV 24 with 15 news items.

A total of 672 news items with harmful narratives were recorded in the online media. There were the fewest in May (187), and the most in April (261), which is a record for the entire monitoring period. There are big differences in the number of published news items with a harmful narrative: the online media outlet with the most harmful news items is Kurir – 124 news items, and the online media outlet with the least published news items with a harmful narrative is Nova TV – 14 news items.

The three most frequently mentioned harmful narratives in the central news editions of TV stations are Undermining trust in institutions (100 times or 31% of the total number of narratives), Biased selection (100 times or 31% of the total number of narratives) and Fomenting divisions (34 times or 11 % of the total number of narratives). These three harmful narratives noted in the central news editions coincide with the same three most commonly used by political actors. The situation is similar in online media, where the first two most frequently mentioned harmful narratives are Undermining trust in institutions and Biased selection, and in third place are Character attacks.

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