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Social Media and Political Communication. Case Study – The Parliamentary Parties In Romania

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Abstract

The study aims to examine the extent to which parliamentary parties from Romania are using Social Media to promote their image and political messages, but also the level of participation of supporters in social networks. Another objective of this paper aims to identify similarities between the hypothetical percentages of supporters of political parties in Social Media, electoral percentages of accessing the Romanian Parliament and the current political configuration of the Romanian Parliament. The research is focused on comparative analysis of the "de facto" representation of the parliamentary parties in the Romanian community and the degree of representation in social networks. Through this study we have tried to show that there are similarities between the degree of support for parties in the real world, relative to the virtual environment.
Social Media and Political Communication:
Case study – the Parliamentary Parties in Romania
Tănase Tasenţe and Nicoleta Ciacu
Abstract:
The study aims to examine the extent to which parliamentary parties from Romania are using
Social Media to promote their image and political messages, but also the level of participation of
supporters in social networks. Another objective of this paper aims to identify similarities between
the hypothetical percentages of supporters of political parties in Social Media, electoral
percentages of accessing the Romanian Parliament and the current political configuration of the
Romanian Parliament. The research is focused on comparative analysis of the "de facto"
representation of the parliamentary parties in the Romanian community and the degree of
representation in social networks. Through this study we have tried to show that there are
similarities between the degree of support for parties in the real world, relative to the virtual
environment.
Keywords: online political communication, Social media analysis, political parties from Romania,
Facebook
Introduction
The new Media caused major changes in the political communication. They have become a
resource often used by the political actors in order to strengthen their “capital of visibility”. All the
new media resources - among which we can mention the websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter of
the politicians and / or the political parties, allow “the affirmation of a discursive identity of
politicians, contributing to the customizing of the political discourse (the politician presents his
political platform in the context of interaction with his voter-user)” (Beciu, 2011, p. 281)
This analysis aims to identify how the parliamentary parties in Romania managed to mobilize
their voters by means of the communication mediated by the social networks, blogs and videos on
Youtube. Another aim of the paper requires the identification of any similarities or differences
between the percentages of the supporters of the political parties in the Social Media, the electoral
percentages of accessing the Parliament of Romania obtained in the 2008 parliamentary elections
and the political configuration of the Parliament of Romania at the end of the parliamentary session.
Functions of the New Media in the Political Communication
In the context of the relationship between the political actor, mass media and the public / electorate,
Camelia Beciu (2011, p. 281) identifies a number of functions that the Internet / the New Media
have, as follows:
a) The politician broadcasts his “controlled speech” and has the possibility of presenting his
point of view without being “interrupted” by the journalists, by his opponents, by the media format
constraints, etc;
b) The political opinions and posts broadcast in the traditional media - local and national -
are replicated online. Thus, the political actor argues the visibility of his key messages delivered to
a target group;
c) Due to the new media, the politicians launch a presumptive political and media agenda.
Nowadays, it has become of common practice for the journalists to give visibility to some
statements taken from the blogs or Facebook pages of the politicians. It was already created a
symbiosis between the traditional media and the new media;
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d) The governors use the new means of mass communication to promote their policies and
the decisions they take and which give them the image of “good governors”;
e) The political doctrines, policies and electoral projects are promoted by the New Media, in
a form other than the one in the traditional political communication. There are used publicly
available forms – “interactive”, “narrative”, “conversational”.
f) The visibility of the electoral message - designing an alleged online electioneering is part
of a candidate's electoral strategy, and each online resource has a specific function for his
campaign;
g) By means of the Internet, there can be mobilized the voters who are asked to advance their
opinion and to participate in the discussion on some issues of public interest.
h) By using the Internet, the political actor interacts apparently more “efficiently” with his
voters, beyond the institutional and bureaucratic rigors.
Facebook – The Dissemination and the “Socializing” of the Political Message
The real revolution of the Internet and mass communication through the new media was realized at
the beginning of the third millennium when Web 1.0 has moved to a new phase of its development,
namely Web 2.0. This step meant, according to Mihai Horia Bădău (2011, p. 25), the liberation
from thetyranny of technology”. Furthermore, Web 2.0 was named the “Internet of the users”,
developing a new model of mass communication, characterized by a high degree of interaction
between the broadcaster / broadcasters and the online public.
Another essential feature of Web 2.0 is represented by its accessibility”; anyone could
participate in sharing information and content, not only the IT specialists and web designers, as is
the case of Web 1.0.
In another sense, this concept represents “the evolution of the Internet from a repository of
information and communication technologies (represented by sites), which were cumbersome forms
of communication, to a symmetrical communication space (platform which helps to transfer
knowledge and conversations, where people can meet and organize easily)” (Bădău, 2011, p. 25).
Facebook is a part of the Social Media category as well. Thus, the Facebook social network has
been defined as “a free online social network that allows its registered users to create their personal
profiles, to upload photos and videos, to send messages and to interrelate with their friends, family
and colleagues” (http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/facebook.html). The Facebook social
network was founded on February 4, 2004 and it currently has a number of 906 895 580 registered
members, 213 countries (www.socialbakers.com, accessed on August 28, 2012). In other words,
this site was created from the perspective of at least five dimensions, as follows:
a) Market - where the members are allowed to post, read and respond to the advertising
messages;
b) Groups - allows the creation of virtual communities based on the common interests of the
members;
c) Events - allows the members to announce an event organized by themselves or by others, to
invite their friends to this event and to monitor those who accept or decline their invitations;
d) Pages - allows members to create and promote a public page (a public figure, politician,
singer, company, etc.) built around an idea;
e) Instantaneous communication - allows all the members who are online to interact instantly
by means of the chat box.
In April 2009, Romania recorded a total of 110,000 users, according to the Facebook
Demographics: Trends study (authors: Ben Lorica and O'Reilly Research), ranking 30th out of 34 in
a ranking of the countries in Europe, just ahead countries such as Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta and
Ukraine. On November 21, 2010, the number of the Facebook users in Romania reached 1,897,920,
given that in May 2010, 1,287,500 members were registered.
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Of the total population in Romania, 8.64% use Facebook, meaning 24.37% from the number
of people with access to the Internet. In November 2011, Romania ranked 47th in the world ranking
of the countries with the most Facebook members. Only in September 2010, almost 1.7 million
Romanians aged between 13 and 64 chose to join Facebook, equivalent to 7.4 percent of the
population, as reveals an analysis prepared by eResearch Corp Company
(http://www.etiquettes.ro/marketing/facebook-hi5-si-twitter-raman-preferatele-romanilor-amatori-
de-internet/).
At the end of August 2012, Romania ranked 34th in the world, with about 5 million Facebook
profiles (ie - 4963760, according to the data provided by www.facebrands.ro) and the penetration
rate in the general population is of 22, 58% and of 63.68% in the population with Internet access.
Of the total active population on Facebook, 30% are between 18-24 years, 30% - between 25
and 34 and 15% - between 35 and 44. The gender distribution is symmetric, 50% of the users are
women and 50% are men (www.socialbakers.com, accessed on August 28, 2012). In the last 3
months the age segments that registered the largest increases, of approximately 80,000 users, are
those between 25-34 years old and 35-44 years old respectively. The 45-54 years old category
experienced a noticeable increase of about 40,000 users. This shows an “aging” of Facebook in
Romania, something that will be very important in the context of the political communication and
the formation of the online communities of people who are political issues-oriented.
The political figures most visible in the Social Media, according to the data from
www.facebrands.ro (accessed on August 28, 2012) are: Silviu Prigoană (87,644 fans), Victor Ponta
(52,999 fans), Remus Cernea (45,589 fans), Sorin Oprescu (44,275 fans), Elena Udrea (36,404
fans), Cristian Popescu Piedone (35,479 fans) and Crin Antonescu (31,033 fans). Also, in the
“political” section, www.facebrands.ro records, as well, several Facebook pages which do not
belong to a politician, but are for political reasons, such as “The Movement of the Green” (29,227
fans), “You are mad at Băsescu. Why?” (26,320 fans), “YES! I Vote” (11.772 fans) etc.
In order to build a relevant research, we will need to consider, as well, the online voters that we find
in this social network. Thus, the total population of Romania is of 21,390,000, the number of
citizens with voting rights is of 18,292,464, according to
http://www.becreferendum2012.ro/DOCUMENTE%20BEC/Rezultate/rezultat.pdf (85.5% of the
total population), the number of the Internet users in Romania is of 8,578,484, according to
http://www.internetworldstats.com/europa.htm (40.1 %), the number of the Facebook members is of
4,963,760 (57.9% of the Internet users). People who use Facebook and have the right to vote
represent a rate of about 85% of the total number of users, ie, 4,189,413, according to
www.socialbakers.com (84.4% of the total number of the Facebook users).
ITEM TOTAL %
Total population 21.390.000 100%
Citizens with voting rights 18.292.464 85,5%
Internet users (I.U.) 8.578.484 40%
Total Facebook members (Fb.M.) 4.963.760 57,9% from I.U.
Facebook members with voting
rights
4.189.413 84,4% from Fb.M.
Fans of Facebook’s political pages 87.200 1,76% from Fb.M.
[Table 1 - Demographic data relevant for the research of the political communication by means of the Social
Media]
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From the perspective of social cohesion, which can be researched in the field of political
communication, a research conducted by Tasenţe Tănase and Nicoleta Ciacu (2010, p. 185) showed
that, in 2010, the Facebook social network was unable to facilitate interaction at the level of large
groups but only at the level of individuals, as members of larger groups. Beyond this, we can state
that Facebook has a significant contribution to the social reconfiguration in Romania in terms of the
users who need to create and promote their image in this online community, to complete their group
of friends and to interact with new people. With the development of the Facebook users database
and the growing involvement of the political actors and their team of communicators in this type of
communication by means of social networks, we assume that Facebook will be able to facilitate
interaction at the level of large groups as well through the online opinion leaders, which will be
investigated in the next parliamentary elections held on December 9, 2012.
The Political Context in Romania
The Specificity of the political system in Romania
According to the Constitution, Romania is “a national, sovereign, independent, unitary and
indivisible state” (http://www.cdep.ro/pls/dic/site.page?den=act2_1&par1=1#t1c0s0a1). The form
of the government in the Romanian State is represented by the semi-presidential republic. The State
is organized according to the principle of separation and balance of powers - legislative, executive
and judicial - in a constitutional democracy.
The Romanian Parliament is bicameral, consisting of the Senate with 137 members, and the
Chamber of Deputies, with 314 members. A total of 18 additional parliamentary seats in the
Chamber of Deputies are reserved for the representatives of the national minorities. The Parliament
of Romania has a legislative role, debating and voting the ordinary and organic laws, both in the
specialized committees and in plenary. The members of the Parliament are elected by a mixed
uninominal vote, universal, direct and secret. The electoral system is a proportional one (the
members of the Parliament are elected from all parties that have exceeded the threshold of 5% of
the total votes, based on an algorithm). Elections are held every four years, the last taking place on
November 30, 2008, and the next elections will be held on December 9, 2012.
The Parliamentary parties in Romania
The Liberal Democratic Party (PD-L) is the heir of the Democratic Party (DP). The DP was
formed on March 31, 1993 by fusion, merging the National Salvation Front with the Democratic
Party, resulting in a new legal personality, formalized by the Bucharest Court decision No. 13 of
May 23, 1993. On April 8, 2004 the NLP-DP Justice and Truth Alliance is recorded in the Register
of the Political Alliances. On December 15, 2007 delegates of the DP and the DLP meet in an
Extraordinary National Convention, where the absorption of the LDP is announced by the DP, the
change of the status, the DP changing its name into the Liberal Democratic Party (PD-L.). This
party ruled from December 22, 2008 until April 27, 2012.
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) is the largest political party in Romania, the representative of
the social democracy, currently in power in the Parliament of Romania. The PSD is the heir of the
National Salvation Front, the first political party that ruled Romania after the 1989 Revolution. On
February 6, 2011, the Social Democratic Party formed alongside with the National Liberal Party
and the Conservative Party, the Social Liberal Union as an alternative to the PD-L government.
Soon, it becomes the strongest current political structure and, at the local elections in 2012, won
41.49% of the major parliamentary seats and 49.48% of the County Council Chairmen
(http://www.cdep.ro/pls/dic/site.page?den=act2_1&par1=1#t1c0s0a1).
The National Liberal Party (PNL) is one of the main political parties in Romania,
considered a historic party as well, with a significant role in modernizing the country. It was
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established under that name on May 24, 1875. Of the 87 offices of Romania, 30 were led by liberal
prime ministers.
The Conservative Party (PC), the former Romanian Humanist Party (RHP), is a political
party in Romania, representing the conservative doctrine of the Parliament of Romania. The
Conservative Party was founded in 1991 after the fall of communism, as the Romanian Humanist
Party (RHP). From 2005 to December 3, 2006, it was part of the ruling coalition. The party took the
present name on May 7, 2005.
The Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) is a political organization
founded to represent the interests of the Hungarian community in Romania. In 2007 the union
became a member of the European People's Party.
The National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR) is a political party in Romania
represented in the Parliament of Romania. This party claims its political orientation as being
left-centered having a social-democratic doctrine. In 2008, the members of the SDP, NLP and CP,
as well as of other parliamentary fractions represented in the Parliament of Romania, came out of
their groups, because of their support for the President, Traian Băsescu. They formed the
parliamentary group of independents. In May 2010, they came together and formed the NUPR,
which, allied with the D-LP and the DUHR, participated in government.
The Political configuration of the Parliament of Romania after the 2008 election
According to www.alegeri.tv, a site specialized in analyzing the democratic elections in Romania,
the parliamentary seats in the 2008 elections were distributed as follows:
1. The Liberal Democratic Party (PD-L) – 166 mandates from 471
2. The Alliance of Social Democratic Party and Conservative Party (PSD-PC)163 mandates
from 471
3. The National Liberal Party (PNL) – 93 mandates from 471
4. The Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) – 31 mandates from 471
5. Minority group – 18 mandates from 471
Figure 1 - Political configuration after the 2008 election
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The current political configuration of the Parliament of Romania
According to www.cdep.ro and www.senat.ro, the political configuration of the Parliament of
Romania has undergone some notable changes compared to the results of the last election in 2008,
as follows:
The Liberal Democratic Party has 140 MPs, compared to 166 in 2008. The PSD, PNL and PC
parties have formed an alliance called the Social Liberal Union, having together 215 MPs. The
Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania has, at present, 27 MPs, compared to 31 in 2008 and
the Group of the National Minorities has 16 MPs, compared to 18 in 2008. The major change in the
Parliament of Romania was created by the migration of the PNL, PD-L and PSD MPs in the group
of the non-partisan MPs. Subsequently, of the 33 independent MPs, 24 have formed a new political
party called the National Union for the Progress of Romania.
Figure 2 - The current political configuration of the Parliament of Romania
The Research Objectives
O1: Analyzing the extent to which the parliamentary parties in Romania use the Social Media to
promote the image and the political message of the political party.
O2: Identifying the presumptive similarities and differences between the percentages of the
supporters of the political parties in Social Media, the electoral percentages of accessing the
Parliament of Romania and the current political configuration of the parliamentary system in
Romania.
The Research Hypotheses
H1: The parliamentary parties in Romania due not fully exploit the promotion of the image and the
political message of the party and also the interaction with their voters by means of the Social
Media.
H2: Even if the political configuration has changed considerably in the Parliament of Romania, the
political party supporters on Facebook is, in percentage, equal to the electoral situation in the 2008
parliamentary elections.
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The Research Method
The research method used to achieve the objectives is represented by the quantitative analysis of the
documents and the instrument used is the analysis of the traffic and of the degree of participation in
the social networks. The problem studied in this paper was also discussed by a team of researchers
from Croatia, FYROM and Kosovo, the study being entitled “Facebook and Political
0communication - Macedonian case” (Emruli; Zejneli; Agai, 2011, pp. 451-459), published in
International Journal of Computer Science Issues.
The instrument used for achieving O1: In the first instance, in order to investigate whether the
official websites of the parliamentary political parties in Romania use the social networks and blogs
to promote the image of the party, I viewed the website of each party, for noticing if they have on
their first page, a link to their Facebook pages, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and other networks, and I
also viewed the blogs of the political leaders. Thus, the coding was binary, meaning that if on the
political party website there was not one of these social networks, the code was “0” and if there
was, the code was “1”.
The instrument used for achieving O2: In order to identify the presumptive similarities and
differences between the percentages of the supporters of the political parties in the Social Media,
the electoral percentages of accessing the Parliament of Romania and the current political
configuration, I will use the following resources:
- www.facebrands.ro for grouping, in the “Politics” section the Facebook pages of the 6
political parties taken as a research sample and for collecting the total number of fans for each party
separately;
- Facebook – for centralizing and grouping the Facebook communities (groups) and the group
members of the political parties under study;
- The proceedings of the Central Electoral Commission for the 2008 elections and
www.alegeri.tv specialized in analyzing the democratic elections in Romania - for calculating the
percentages of the election, on the basis of which the political parties have access to the Parliament
of the Romania. We will calculate these percentages from the total number of the citizens eligible to
vote registered on the electoral lists and not from the number of the citizens turnout.
- www.cdep.ro and www.senat.ro for collecting and centralizing the data on the current
political configuration of the Parliament of Romania.
The Data Collection and Analysis
Data were obtained as a result of centralizing the information and the statistical figures from the
official websites of the parliamentary political parties in Romania. The entire research was based on
the content analysis of the online resources used by the political parties under study.
Analysis: The parliamentary political parties of Romania in social networks
After reviewing the official sites of the parliamentary parties in Romania, the use of the social
networks and of the blogs of the political leaders are represented as follows:
Political
party
FB Twitte
r
Blogs Youtube Flickr Other Total %
PD-L 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 13,3%
PSD 1 1 1 1 0 1 5 83,33%
PNL 1 1 1 1 0 1 5 83,33%
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PC 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 16,66%
UDMR 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 33,33%
UNPR 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0%
Table no. 1 – The Social Media instruments used by the parliamentary parties in Romania on their official
websites
The Liberal Democratic Party, according to the www.pd.org.ro official website, does not
promote the image and the political message of the party in any social network, the only online
resource used for the interaction with its voters being the discussion forum. However, there are
icons for all the social networks under study, but refer to the main pages of the social networks and
not to the custom pages of the party.
The Social Democratic Party, according to the www.psd.ro official website, promotes the
image and the political message of the party in all the social networks (Facebook, Twitter, blogs of
the political leaders, YouTube, Linkedin), less in the Flickr social network. The percentage of the
use of the Social Media by the Social Democratic Party is of 83.33%.
The National Liberal Party, according to the www.pnl.ro official website, promotes the
image and the political message of the party in all the social networks (Facebook, Twitter, of the
blogs political leaders, YouTube, Linkedin), less in the Flickr social network. The percentage of the
use of the Social Media by the Liberal National Party is of 83.33%.
The Conservative Party, according to the www.pc.ro official website, promotes the image
and the political message of the party only through the blogs of the politicians. The percentage of
the use of the Social Media by the Conservative Party is of 16.66%.
The Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, according to the www.udmr.ro official
website, promotes the image and the political message of the party only through Facebook and the
blogs of the politicians. The percentage of the use of the Social Media by the DUHR is of 33.33%.
The National Union for the Progress of Romania, according to the www.unpr.eu official
website, does not promote the image and the political message of the party in any social network.
Figure 3 - The extent to which the political parties use the social networks for promoting their image and their
political message
Analysis of representation in the Parliament of Romania vs. representation on Facebook
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Of the 171 pages of the “Politics” section on the Social Media analysis site called
www.facebrands.ro, 102 belong to politicians, supporters and parliamentary parties (the
parliamentary session of 2008-2012), meaning a percentage of approximately 60%. The remaining
69 Facebook pages support a political cause or belong to the politicians or the political parties not
represented in the Parliament. Relating to the Facebook groups supporting the six political parties,
we find that the total number is of 108 discussion groups, summing 85,269 members. The
difference between the discussion groups and the official pages of Facebook is that, in the case of
the groups / communities, the initiative of debate is taken by the supporters of the parties who do
not impose them a topic for discussion, as it is in the case of the official Facebook pages where
most of the times, the communication is one-sided.
Political
party
Groups Members Pages Fans % from
total Fb
% 2008
election**
PD-L 22 16.240 26 206545 4,93% 12,64%
PSD*** 14 44.069 26 174108*4,16% 12,86%
PNL 48 17.931 38 97060*2,31% 7,06%
PC*** 6 1.077 7 21460*0,51% 12,86%
UDMR 5 537 3 1136 0,02% 2,04%
UNPR 13 5.415 2 36780 0,87% -
TOTAL 108 85.269 102 537089
Table no 2 – The Facebook social networks of the parliamentary parties
* It was taken into account the Facebook page as well, including the number of Liberal Social Union fans;
** The percentage was calculated from the total number of citizens eligible to vote registered on the electoral
lists
E.g. the SDP – CP Alliance - / 18,292,464 * 100 = 12.86%
*** The two parties run into an electoral alliance
Figure 4 – % 2008 parlamentary election vs. Facebook fans
The Liberal Democratic Party has 26 Facebook pages (of politicians or central or local
affiliates), for a total of 206,545 fans. The LDP obtained, at the parliamentary elections in 2008, a
rate of 12.64% from the total number of citizens eligible to vote registered on the electoral lists. The
percentage of the fans of the Facebook pages – the supporters of the political party - is of 4.93% of
the total number of the Facebook users in Romania being over 18 years old. Relating to the
Facebook groups supporting the DLP, we find that the total number is of 22 discussion groups,
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summing 16,240 members. The DLP popularity obtained in the Social Media correlates with the
votes obtained in the elections, so that we can state that a sufficient number of them continue their
support in the Social Media also.
The Social Liberal Union, the political alliance that was formed during the parliamentary
session, consists of the Social Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party and the Conservative
Party, totaling together 71 pages, and the cumulative number of fans is of 269,230 (taking into
account that the Facebook page of the Social Liberal Union has 11,669 members and supporters
from all the three political parties). The SDP – CP Alliance obtained a rate of 12.64% from the total
number of citizens eligible to vote registered on the electoral lists, and the LNP - 7.06%; therefore
the SLU comprise a percentage of 19.70% from the options in the 2008 elections. The percentage of
the fans of the Facebook pages the supporters of the political alliance - is of 6.98% of the total
number of the Facebook users in Romania being over 18 years old. Relating to the Facebook groups
supporting the SLU, we find that the total number is of 68 discussion groups, summing 63,077
members. After the formation of the political alliance, on Facebook there were created by the
supporters of the three parties, pages and groups for supporting the union that emphasized the extent
to which they participated in the promotion of their common political message.
The Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania has 3 Facebook pages (of politicians or
central or local branches), with a total of 1,136 fans. The DUHR obtained a rate of 2.04% of votes
from the total number of citizens eligible to vote registered on the electoral lists and the percentage
of the fans of the Facebook pages the supporters of the political party - is of 0.02% of the total
number of the Facebook users in Romania being over 18 years old. Relating to the Facebook groups
supporting the DUHR, we find that the total number is of 5 discussion groups, summing 537
members. This indicates a very low extent to which the Hungarian communities in Romania
participated in the social networks and the politics of the Union is realized only by the politicians
without the active online participation of the electorate.
The National Union for the Progress of Romania did not participate in the 2008
parliamentary elections, but was formed, during the parliamentary session, by the MPs who left
other parliamentary parties. The percentage of the fans of the Facebook pages – the supporters of
the political party - is of 0.87% from the total number of the Facebook users in Romania being over
18 years old. Relating to the Facebook groups supporting the NUPR, we find that the total number
is of 13 discussion groups, summing 5,415 members. These percentages emphasize that the NUPR
is a group that did not receive the popular vote and does not have the reputation and the reliability
of the other parties in the Parliament of Romania yet. However, we note that the degree of the
online support for the party is greater than the one of the Conservative Party and of the Democratic
Union of Hungarians in Romania.
Political
party
%
Groups
%
Members
%
Pages
%
Fans
Avarage Mandates % polit.
Config.
PD-L 20,37% 19,04% 25,5% 38,5% 25,85% 166 32,96%
PSD*12,99% 51,68% 25,5% 32,5% 30,67% 163 33,62%
PNL 44,44% 21,03% 37 % 18% 30,12% 93 18,65%
PC*5,55% 1,26% 7% 4% 4,45% - -
UDMR 4,62% 0,63% 3% 0,2% 2,11% 18 6,28%
UNPR 12,03% 6,36% 2% 6,8% 6,80% - -
Table no 3 – The participation supporters of the political parties on the social networks related to their electoral
support
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* The two parties ran into an electoral alliance in the 2008 parliamentary elections.
From the chart below we see that the Liberal Democratic Party has fewer Facebook groups
than the Social Democratic Party and the difference is that the SDP has groups with much more
members than the ones of the DLP (over 50% of the total number of members of all the Facebook
groups under study). The Liberal National Party has the most Facebook support groups, almost 45%
of the total number of the groups under study, but we note that they are groups with few active
members.
Figure 5 - The Facebook Groups of the political parties and their members as percentages
From the chart below we see that both the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal
Democratic Party have an equal number of Facebook support pages, but the total number of
members is 6 percent higher for the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal National Party has the most
Facebook pages, but the total number of fans is much smaller, 18%, compared to 32.5%
respectively 38.5%, as of the other two political parties mentioned above.
Figure 6 - The Facebook pages of the political parties and their fans as percentages
From the chart below we see that, even if the DLP and the SDPCP came into Parliament
with a noticeably equal number of parliamentary mandates, the participation of the supporters of the
Alliance on Facebook is about 10 percent higher than the one of the Liberal Democratic Party. Even
if the Liberal National Party had a rate of about 20% in the 2008 parliamentary elections, we find
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that the participation of the supporters of the political party on Facebook is of 30%, with more than
4 percent over the activity of the Liberal Democratic Party supporters in the Social Media. The
DUHR has a very low participation of the supporters of the political party in the Social Media -
only 2%.
Figure 7 - The average Facebook participation of the political parties and the political configuration of the
Parliament
Conclusions
The parliamentary parties in Romania do not use all the social networks. There are also political
parties, among which we can mention the Liberal Democratic Party (the winner of the
parliamentary elections in 2008) which do not use any social network (only the discussion forum),
on their official website, in order to promote their image and their political messages or for
interaction with the supporters of the political party. The same applies to the National Union for the
Progress of Romania.
Even if the political configuration has changed in the Parliament of Romania, in point of the
number of parliamentary seats, the configuration remains approximately the same in point of
percentage, as in 2008, the percentage of the political party supporters on Facebook is equal to the
electoral situation in the 2008 parliamentary elections.
The political parties, which have exploited the benefits of promoting their image and political
messages by means of the social networks, have enjoyed the active participation of their supporters
on Facebook. These ones have initiated discussion groups and online communities, and have
actively supported the efforts of the parties. In the case of the Social Democratic Party and the
National Liberal Party we notice a percentage of participation of the fans in the Facebook social
network higher than the “score” obtained in the 2008 parliamentary elections or even higher than
the actual percentage of representation in the Parliament.
Beyond this, we must take into consideration the fact that regardless of the smaller number of
supporters on Facebook compared to the number of the real voters, the users initiating causes or
online discussion groups are very influential opinion leaders, not only in the online but in the real
world also. The political parties must take into account that as long as they manage to keep them -
12
the opinion leaders of social networks - close, the degree of influence of the political message will
increase proportionally with the number of the opinion leaders on Facebook. This will “revive” the
old communication model developed by Paul Lazarsfeld in 1955, called the “two-step flow of
communication”. This theory showed that the opinion leaders are, in fact, the ones who affect the
interpretation of the media messages. In other words, the media message is not directly interpreted
by the public, but mediated through interpersonal communication and the contact with the opinion
leaders. In fact, this is the great “revolution” of the Social Media: the interaction.
About the Authors
Tănase Tasenţe is working as Assistant Professor in Andrei Şaguna University of Constanţa,
Romania. He is also a PhD scholar.
Nicoleta Ciacu is working as Assistant Professor in Constantin Brâncoveanu University of Brăila,
Romania. He is also a PhD scholar.
References
Beciu, C. (2011). Sociology of communication and public space. Iaşi: Polirom
Bădău, H.-M. (2011). Communication Techniques in Social Media. Iaşi: Polirom
Emruli, S.; Zejneli, T.; Agai, F. (2011). “Social Media and political communicationMacedonian
case”. International Journal of Computer Science Issues. 8 (4). www.IJCSI.org
Tasenţe, T.; Ciacu, N. (2010). “Contributions of the Social Netoworks in Contributiile Social
Networks in the reconfiguration of the society from Romania”. Annals of “Dunarea de Jos”
University of Galati. 5 (5). Galaţi: Galati University Press
http://www.socialbakers.com
http://www.facebrands.ro
http://www.etiquettes.ro/marketing/facebook-hi5-si-twitter-raman-preferatele-romanilor-amatori-
de-internet/
http://www.alegeri.tv/alegeri-parlamentare-uninominale-2008
http://www.internetworldstats.com/europa.htm
www.cdep.ro
www.senat.ro
www.alegeri.tv
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