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For British UKIP, Twitter Mentions May Not Translate to Votes

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, May 23 2014

As techPresident reported yesterday, a Pew study of tweets around the European elections found that in all three languages studied, English, German and French, most of the discussion appeared to focus on the parties most opposed to the European Union or the Euro, such as the National Front in France, the Alternative for Germany and the U.K. Independence Party.

A new visualization of geo-tagged tweets mentioning political parties in Britain yesterday, where local and European elections took place, illustrates the focus of the Twitter conversation on the UKIP.

In the visualization by Simon Rogers, founder of the Guardian Data blog and now a data editor at Twitter, the purple points on the map standing for the UKIP are predominant.

But the overlap between the Twitter conversation and votes does not seem to be straightforward. For the local elections only, the BBC projects a national vote share percentage of 31 percent for Labour, 29 percent for the Conservative Party, 17 percent for the UKIP and 13 percent for the Liberal Democrats.

Many tweets mentioning the UKIP were critical of the party.

The BBC also noted that it faces a dilemma when it comes to publishing exit polls related to the European elections. Dutch news outlets and other international news sites published reports about an exit poll suggesting that the right-wing party of Geert Wilders had lost at the polls Thursday.

But the BBC said it would not report on those results, citing a section of UK law concerning European Parliamentary Elections Regulations which does not permit the publishing of results or estimates before the close of polls.

"With this in mind - and the fact that most countries in the EU do not vote until Sunday - several UK-based news organisations including the BBC concluded that it was not possible to report details of the Dutch exit poll and remain within election law," the BBC writes. "Others, including at least one prominent British newspaper, decided differently and have written stories based on the poll. Anyone with an interest, and the most rudimentary understanding of internet and social media searching, will be able to find out about it if they wish, within a matter of minutes.It all feels uncomfortable and there may well be pressure for a review before future European elections. And in the short term, similar issues are likely to arise on Sunday as the European Parliament itself has said it plans to release details of national exit polls while other countries are still voting."

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