Europe's Elections Seen By Google

Friday, June 5, 2009 | 8:32 AM

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As voters began to go to the polls to elect a new European Parliament, we thought it would be interesting to use some of advanced tools to capture the vote's trends. By deploying our public tool Insights for Search, we wer, we were able to compare the searching patterns of millions of Brits, French, German, Italians and Poles and compute how interest in a topic changes over time. In each country, we looked at the search for political parties in the run up to the election.

The results were fascinating. While many ruling parties showed surprising resilience, the searches underlined how non-traditional and often anti-European parties have gained ground. The UK presents a striking example. Interest in both Labour and the Conservatives stagnated, while smaller parties like the Greens and UK Independence party surged ahead in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal.

A word of caution is in order. It is possible to slice these data in multiple ways. People use a variety of different forms of shorthand when they search, and political parties are no different. The search queries compared here represent the least ambiguous versions of searching for a given party--BNP is a bank in addition to a party, of course, but the Greens share their name with a color and both Labour and Conservative are likewise words in their own right. In addition, there is nothing exhaustive or completely conclusive about these queries. Searches don't necessarily translate into votes.

Even so, we believe that large amounts of anonymous data provides a powerful tool for making important insights. Our Google Flu Trends allows us to predict the spread of the disease faster than public authorities and could end up saving lives. So take a moment to ruminate over the following search results taking the political pulse in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Poland.

United Kingdom



FRANCE

In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP dominated searches and the Socialist Party continued to stagnate. But in the final days before the vote, the left-wing "Front de Gauche" and the right-wing "Front National" gained traction. The Greens, meanwhile, failed to gain real momentum.



GERMANY

In Germany, searches veered left. While the ruling coalition continued to dominate, junior left wing partner SPD rose faster than the Chancellor Angela Merkel's center right CDU. Centrist Free Democrats scored a strong showing and the radical left-wing Die Linke looked poised to surprise and the Greens showing a strong performance.


Italy

Italians seemed to favor the left wing PD and IDV formations over Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling PDL People of Freedom. Little change was visible over the final month of campaigning.


POLAND

Poles turned first to Prime Minister Donald Tusk's Civic Platform. But a surprising number searched for anti-European, nationalist party Libertas, which was born out of the Irish No vote against the Lisbon Treaty.


Posted by Bill Echikson, Senior Manager, Communications

6 comments:

Grahnlaw said...

Fascinating insights. One thing the curves could do is to use the colours of the parties on the graphs. It would be easier to read.

Cezary said...

Libertas Poland is not really popular in terms of votes. It is only that Polish Public TV is ruled by people connected to this party, and so they forced journalists to show Libertas as 3 party in Poland, even if it has only 1% of support in polls. This is why it is searched so often.

Will this e-popularity convert into support? We'll see on Sunday evening.

Bruno Mertins said...

Now with the results out, it will be interesting to compare some data and find some useful insights, such as which parties have much more computer savvy followers and which ones lack of them.

The search trends in France & Germany reflected almost the actual results of the polls.

In France the UMP had the lead of votes, followed by the opposition Socialist Party and the Europe Ecologie environmentalist party in third. Wow, Fascinating...

Bruno Mertins said...

Now with the results out, it will be very interesting to find out some facts, such as which parties have much more computer savvy followers... and other useful insights.

The search trends in France & Germany reflected almost the actual results of the polls.

France UMP had the lead of votes, followed by the opposition Socialist Party and the Europe Ecologie environmentalist party in third. Wow, Fascinating!

Julien Frisch said...

There are quite many ways to interpret these data, and I'd be cautious to do so:

Interest in certain parties may be triggered by the search for general information; it may be the result of a specific news item that raised attention to this party; a party might be of interest of because it is unknown and people want to know more about it; etc.

What I want to say is that you cannot draw any conclusion from the figures except that there was rising interest in certain parties at certain times. To understand why this was the case, you'd probably have to analyse the news of these days.

val said...

I was wondering when people who were hacked in 1997 will ever gain rights to recover their documents.
The reason I am asking is that currently, some politicians were hacked and they now realize how invasion of privacy 0r lack thereof feels.