Policy or person? What voters want from their representatives on Twitter

Nathalie Giger*, Stefanie Bailer, Adrian Sutter, Tomas Turner-Zwinkels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Social media have the potential to transform democracies as they allow for direct contact between representatives and represented. Politicians can use social media to show their policy positions but they can also give insight into their private lives. Based on survey experiments in Germany and Switzerland we show that social media messages about politicians’ private lives rather deter voters. Instead, we find that voters prefer candidates that communicate policy positions. The effect of a policy-oriented communication style on Twitter can even lead to appreciating a politician from a different party in Switzerland, which has an electoral system that gives a strong incentive to cultivate a personal vote.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102401
JournalElectoral Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Representation
  • Social Media
  • Personalization
  • Privatization
  • Policy linkages


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