Examining the populist communication logic:
Strategic use of social media in populist political parties in Norway and Sweden
OSLO METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY, NORWAY
ABSTRACT: Previous research has demonstrated that right-wing populist parties are particularly successful in gaining engagement and interaction on social media, but less is known about how right-wing populist parties use social media strategically, both in relation to voters and news media. By focusing on two Nordic countries, Norway and Sweden, this paper addresses the strategic use of social media within the Sweden Democrats and the Progress Party based on three different data sets: interviews, content analysis of Facebook posts, and engagement data from the parties’ Facebook pages. This study finds that the two populist parties basically follow up their social media strategy in practice, and the Sweden Democrats are more closely following a populist communication logic in their Facebook posts. The article argues that right-wing populist parties’ social media strategy and communication
style must be understood in relation to their position in the political system and the parties’ different phases in the life cycle model of populist parties.