Study: Only conspiratorial storytellers and right-wing extremists suspect electoral fraud
Overall, the Internet community in Germany has shown resistance to the attempt to delegitimize the federal election and its results. This is the result of experts from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) in a study published Thursday. The open online dissemination of alleged evidence of electoral fraud has been confined to “ideological and far-right conspiracy circles” and groups of AfD supporters.
The Berlin office of the London think tank on intercommunal conflicts, extremism and terrorism carried out an “ethnographic watch” of the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, VK and Telegram platforms for analysis. The team reviewed communication in the groups and channels of these networks daily and noted the most important topics, keywords, tactics and actors. This qualitative research approach comes from ethnography and therefore has its name in the title.
objective of the investigation According to authors Julia Smirnova and Hannah Winter, it was “to identify organized efforts that undermine society’s confidence in the integrity of the election.” Such efforts can therefore be proven in the run-up to elections, but also on election day itself. On Sunday, “real and suspected errors and irregularities at polling stations” were taken out of context to serve as evidence of systematic electoral fraud.
“Correctly executed processes were interpreted incorrectly and presented as evidence of electoral manipulation,” he continues. Unfounded allegations of fraud have been found on several platforms. The users would have denied any legitimacy to the democratic act and used “various myths of the conspiracy”. False information about alleged electoral fraud in the United States, which former President Donald Trump himself had spread there, has been used to support the thesis that the same could be happening in Germany.
The AfD expressed doubts about the choice
According to the authors, the AfD and some of its politicians have actively participated in sowing doubt, especially around postal votes. The AfD has placed paid ads on Facebook and Instagram with hints that this voting method is particularly susceptible to manipulation. In addition, official accounts of the AfD and its candidates have reportedly called for election observation. These were always associated with claims that all could not be well.
On Sunday, the “sometimes chaotic conditions in Berlin” with missing and exchanged ballots for the Berlin House of Representatives election and long queues outside polling stations were cited as evidence of manipulation deliberate election, wrote the duo. In a popular Telegram group chat with several thousand participants, one user claimed that supporters of the Greens have voted multiple times. This is also the reason why the assistants had partly extended the time limit for voting after 6 p.m.
Massive criticism of the Berlin election
In the meantime, however, the rbb utility itself is reporting the “chaotic election” with numerous blackouts in the capital. A massive number of spoiled votes, estimates instead of results and incorrect ballots left many observers in awe.
On Wednesday, regional returning officer Petra Michaelis had drawn the consequences of the massive criticism and made her office available. For several constituencies, recounts are pending due to very rare or unusual results.
Nonetheless, according to the researchers, there were many “misinterpretations” of the correct processes in the social media studied. Telegram users reported ballots with missing corners or ballot boxes that were unsealed. However, these are not errors or violations of the right to vote. Shortly before the elections, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a telegram indicating that only four OSCE observers would be deployed. Although the size of the squad has hardly changed in recent years, RT DE then suggested that the number was insufficient this time around.
Structurally more confidence
The fact that the local online community has been shown to be more resistant to electoral fraud speech than in the United States, for example, has several structural reasons, “such as greater confidence in the media and an electoral and party system. less prone to polarization. ”. However, more research is needed to better understand how attitudes towards the electoral process of the general public have been influenced.
The link between allegations of electoral fraud in reference to a “corona dictatorship”, anti-Semitic conspiracy stories and general mistrust of the media and established political institutions are also trends “which remain of concern in Germany beyond. of the electoral law ”.
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