‘Likes’ do not translate into votes

‘Likes’ do not translate into votes

You can’t avoid vertigo if you put the latest opinion polls and the social media influence of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the leader of the main opposition, Stefanos Kasselakis, side by side.

If one looks at the voters’ preferences (a 15% lead for ruling New Democracy over SYRIZA), one wonders what kind of black hole swallowed the thousands of followers of the latter. What’s more, if we focus on the question of who is “most suitable for prime minister,” we are faced with a wide gap (36% for Mitsotakis, versus 12% for Kasselakis, while “none” wins second place with 22%).

In the realm of “likes” and “views,” facts are open to different readings. On social media, and especially on TikTok, the prime minister and the leader of SYRIZA are in close proximity. We don’t focus so much on the number of followers or who is first on Facebook – which is for slightly older generations – as on video views, which in some cases exceed 2 million for each of the two politicians.

So what happens when it is time for the polls and then the elections? Are social media users excluded from the sample? Obviously not. The question is rhetorical but helps us to make the next guess: The inactivity of passive scrolling and the online spectacle is different from the political stakes of an electoral contest.

In short, “likes” do not translate into votes. Politics are also partly about an image, but not only that. A smart, cute or entertaining post does not translate into political dominance. “Governability” options obey different indicators.

Is this a reason for optimism? Not necessarily. The fact that the active and all-powerful social media are not reflected, to the same degree, in the opinion polls does not mean that the electorate votes solely for the party that is ahead. The crisis is real, due to the lack of an alternative solution. The great distance between the first and second party carries risks, apart from the fact that it impoverishes politics. It may appear to consolidate one party but the ground is shifting. Ambivalence creates fluidity, the undecided vote wins a high percentage. The gray area widens.

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