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The European Union on Twitter, one year after Brexit

When it comes to the European Union, negative emotions, predominantly “fear,”
prevail in tweets about Europe.

One year since the historical referendum vote that sanctioned Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit, June 23, 2016), Expert System has conducted an analysis to verify emotions and moods prevalent in thoughts expressed online by citizens. The analysis was conducted on Twitter using the cognitive Cogito technology to analyze a sample of approximately 160,000 tweets in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish related to Europe (more than 65,000 tweets for #EU, #Europe…) and Brexit (more than 95,000 tweets for #brexit…) posted between May 21 – June 21, 2017.

Regarding the emotional sphere of the people, the prevailing sentiment was fear followed by desire as a mood for intensely seeking something, but without a definitive negative or positive connotation. The analysis revealed a need for more energy (action), and, in an atmosphere that seems to be dominated by a general sense of stress, the tweets also showed many contrasts: modernism and traditionalism, hope and remorse, hatred and love.

Negative emotions are expressed for the most part in French Tweets (88%), followed by Italian and Spanish Tweets (81%), and lastly German and English Tweets (75%).

Among citizens’ opinions on Twitter, Expert System has found different belief regards to the rights correlated to the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. Tweets in Italian focused on citizenship, which was also prevalent in Spanish tweets, where justice was also frequently cited. Justice was more frequently cited in tweets in French, while tweets in German centered on dignity and solidarity. Finally, tweets in English referencing the European Union talked about all of the rights of EU citizens with the notable presence of freedom.

Considering the global nature of the tweets analyzed (more than 1600.000 tweets referencing the European Union and Brexit), the central position of United Kingdom politicians is noteworthy, primarily Theresa May, who garnered positive sentiment. Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni was less popular in the tweets, with neutral sentiment and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, who also was infrequently mentioned, was associated with positive sentiment. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron were equals in both popularity and positive sentiment.

 

More details on Expert System analysis are available here and in this infographics.


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