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More digital than ever - Social media and democracy in the German elections

+++ This event was held in GERMAN +++

Three weeks ago, Germany’s unprecedented “traffic light” coalition of Social Democrats, Greens, and Liberals presented their coalition government agreement – an alliance that was formed against the backdrop of elections in pandemic times and a shift of campaigning to the online sphere. 

Since the beginning of the German election campaign, concerns about hate speech, misinformation, and attempts at manipulating the electorate have been voiced – but have these fears come true? 

In a project funded by Stiftung Mercator, Democracy Reporting International has monitored the German online election campaign in real-time, analysing patterns, hot topics, and a potential gender bias. Together with the Berliner Tagesspiegel, a social media dashboard was developed that rendered real-time observation of the election campaign on social media possible for all citizens. 

Two months after the election, Stiftung Mercator in cooperation with Democracy Reporting International has taken stock, launched the final report of DRI’s social media analysis – and asked what lessons can be learned to protect future democratic debates in the digital sphere. 

How was the election campaign conducted on social media? What roles do the platforms play in polarisation? And how can politics, civil society, science, and business work together to strengthen democracy in the digital age? 

These issues were explored in a digital “Mercator Impulse” format by the following panellists: 

  • Dr. Gergana Baeva, Research Officer at the Media Policy Lab of Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg
  • Pia Lamberty, Managing Director, Centre for Monitoring, Analysis and Strategy (CeMAS)
  • Helge Lindh, Member of the German Bundestag (SPD) 

With moderation by  

  • Carla Hustedt, Head of Digitalised Society at Stiftung Mercator 
  • Michael Meyer-Resende, Executive Director, Democracy Reporting International (DRI)  

Lena-Maria Böswald (DRI) briefly presented the most important findings from the real-time observation of the election campaign.

Watch the event recording below.

Follow Mercator on YouTube to watch it on their channel.


This work is supported by