Determining Harmful Political Narratives: Monthly Report




Determining Harmful Political Narratives: Monthly Report

Period: April 2024

Full report

The April monitoring coincided with the pre-election campaign for the presidential and parliamentary elections, however it does not include the communication of the candidates for president of the state, but only of the political actors who have been the subject of the monitoring since September 2023.

April notes an increase in harmful content on the websites and on the Facebook pages of political parties and their leaders ‒ from 142 posts in March to 176 posts in April. VMRO-DPMNE, as in all previous months, is the political party with the most identified harmful narratives (43 posts). The news in this monitoring cycle is that Levica is in second place with 38 toxic posts, and SDSM, which in the past months of the monitoring was regularly ranked second, in April dropped to third place with 29 posts with harmful narratives. During April, DUI continued to increase the number of harmful posts (14), and among the opposition parties of ethnic Albanians in the country, united in the pre-election coalition Vredi (Alb. Vlen), increased number of posts with harmful narratives were recorded on the Facebook pages of the leaders of the parties in the coalition and a slight decrease in the posts with harmful narratives on the websites of Alternativa (3) and the Democratic Movement (1). With ten posts with harmful narratives among party leaders, Izet Medjiti, the leader of the Democratic Movement and part of the Vredi coalition is on the top of the list. He is followed with seven posts with a harmful narrative, among the party leaders by Dimitar Apasiev from Levica, while the leader of Alternativa, Afrim Gashi, has six posts with a harmful narrative.

As before, the three most common harmful narratives propagated by political actors are ‘biased selection’, ‘undermining trust in institutions’ and ‘character attacks and/or demonizing opponents’ and these are the same narratives reported by the media. Additionally, online media in April saw a slight increase in ‘extreme patriotism and nationalism’ and ‘ethnocentrism’ compared to the previous month. The harmful narrative ‘spreading panic and fear’ in the same period recorded increase among all monitored subjects.

In the media, in the month when the special rules for reporting election processes and paid political advertising (according to the Electoral Code, the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services and the Law on the Media) came into force, the monitoring of HARM-TIVE determined two record examples. Online media recorded as many as 261 posts with harmful narratives, which is the highest number compared to previous months (February‒211, March‒224). In contrast to online media reporting, the lowest number of harmful news items - 55 - was recorded with the TV stations, continuing the downward trend from March (79).

The online media outlet with the largest number of posts with harmful narratives in April is Kurir (54 news items), which in the previous months (February and March) was also at the top of the list, followed by A1On (33), Vecher.mk (29), Almakos (28) and Republika (27). On the other hand, among the TV stations, the most news items with harmful narratives were recorded at TV Alfa (14), but this television also saw a significant drop (40 in February, 35 in March), which is characteristic of most TV stations. Eight news items were recorded at TV 21, seven were registered at Kanal 5, Alsat M (6), MTV 1 and MTV 2 (5 each), Sitel (4) and three news items each with harmful narratives at TV Telma and TV 24.

In the period of the election campaign, it is noticeable that the Facebook profiles of the ministers in the Government who were simultaneously candidates in the election process were actively used to promote their activities within the campaign, thus misusing the official government communication channels for personal promotion and party purposes.