In its Policy Brief Disinformation Narratives in the November 2021 Bulgarian Elections Campaign: Key Actors and Amplifiers Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) is exploring Bulgaria’s growing vulnerability to propaganda and disinformation in the context of November 2021 parliamentary and presidential elections. At the same time COVID-19 pandemic is at the height of its fourth wave, political instability and polarization have reached highest levels, and rising energy prices threaten social stability.
This rapid reaction assessment, seeks to improve the understanding of the link between the use of disinformation messaging techniques and popular attitudes on key contemporary issues during the November 2021 election campaigns. It conducts a brief overview of the main social media communication patterns of political parties and candidates and tries to reveal possible influence over voting patterns. Some of the key points of the analysis are:
- The deterioration of media freedom and the lack of credible public policy responses have exposed Bulgarian voters to a toxic cocktail of local and foreign propaganda.
- The widespread dissemination of propaganda and disinformation narratives in Bulgaria should be seen in the framework of the increased social media channels societal impact of and the competition between democratic and authoritarian regimes.
- Mainstream political parties have captured much of the social media attention during the current election campaign. Yet smaller nationalist political groups have significantly increased their reach.
- The most popular narratives in the Bulgarian Facebook space in the weeks before the elections concerned COVID19, and the vaccines.
- The most popular disinformation narrative regarding the European Green Deal portrayed it as a utopian, economically unviable policy, that has led to Europe’s current energy crisis.