The 2019 EU elections brought their fair share of surprises, from a shift in majority parties to the possibility of the first female European Commission President. With the dust finally settling from a tumultuous election season, it’s clear that the most popular campaign stages were the ones digitally built on Twitter. Politicians, journalists and voters from around the continent took to the social media platform to engage in conversation, and controversy, about the results of the election, as well as the future of the European Union. Amidst all the noise of Twitter fights, GIFs and trolling, the social media campaign strategy proved a useful tool that gave a voice to candidates and voters alike.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 tweets that capture the mood and personalities involved in the 2019 EU elections – Helpful to provide a summary for everything “EU Elections” that’s happened in the past two months.
Discussions about the Spitzenkandidaten process dominated the Twitter sphere:
On the day after her nomination as European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen created a Twitter account to establish her official social media presence. With only 13 tweets on her account, she already has 61.4K followers! It seems she won’t need to tweet that much anyways, judging by the number of conversations that her few tweets have generated.
Donald Tusk, the outgoing President of the EU Council, took to Twitter to share frequent updates on his involvement in selecting new EU leaders after the general election results had been finalized. While his hope had been to choose positions by “Thursday,” the 19 June, it was actually several additional weeks before the top jobs had been determined.
The new President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, sent out a few Tweets addressing his support of the Spitzenkandidat process. In this system, political parties appoint candidates for European Commission President before elections and one candidate from this pool is later chosen, post-elections, by the party with the most MEPs. The process is hard to understand and rather complicated, making the Spitzenkandidaten process controversial. This year, EU leaders chose to bypass the process, which politicians, like Sassoli, spoke out against.
Aside from the Spitzenkadidaten process, Twitter has also been a platform to comment on voters’ turnout, the famous Ibizagate and last but not least, Brexit:
French President, Emmanuel Macron, took to Twitter with a more optimistic message by responding to the news that voter-turnout was higher than it had been in 20 years. The European Parliament shared on its website that “more than 50% of EU citizens eligible to vote took part in the elections.”
On the body politic side of Twitter, some citizens took to sharing memes in response to the drama of election season. This Twitter user fired off this GIF in response to the Austrian political controversy surrounding Sebastian Kurz and his alleged meeting with the niece of a Russian oligarch in Ibiza. Since this Tweet, Kurz lost a no-confidence vote and the Austrian Chancellor position has been filled by Brigitte Bierlein.
Amidst the political scandal playing out in Austrian national politics, Austrian President Van der Bellen urged citizens to still vote in the EU elections. His concern was generated out of fear that Austrians would dismiss the importance of the elections due to a mistrust in Austrian politics caused by the recent Sebastian Kurz controversy. However, as was the case with many other EU countries, voter turnout increased in Austria to 59.8%, which was well above the 42.54% from the 2014 elections.
POLITICO journalist, Ryan Heath, revealed on Twitter an extensive analysis that showed who members of the 2019-2024 parliament were following on the social media platform. One area, which looked at the top 20 journalists followed by MEPs, showed that only one of the 20 journalists was a woman. In response to these findings, Heath tweeted out a graph displaying the results and calling for MEPs to follow more female reporters.
Miriam Dalli, a re-elected MEP from Malta, took to Twitter to share her gratitude for being selected as the Vice President of the Socialists and Democrats. This role has never been filled by a Maltese politician and it’s an historic win for a small country that often has little representation in the EU.
MEP and Brexit-supporter, Belinda De Lucy, sent out this Tweet during the first session of the new European Parliament on 2 July, held in Strasbourg. For Brexiteers in the EU Parliament, like De Lucy, the hope is to quickly reach a Brexit agreement in the next few months, which would officially end British representation in the European Parliament.
Theresa May Tweeted this just days after she announced that she would be stepping down as Prime Minister of the UK. While she has an active Twitter account, she only sent out this response to the EU Election results.