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The fragmentation and hybridization of contemporary media systems have not only challenged the agenda-setting role of legacy media and political elites, but also opened new avenues for governments to push their narratives through unconventional channels. Social media influencers have gained special prominence in communicating political messages to Gen Z and younger audiences, which has led to their incorporation into the campaign strategies of political parties, and governments, too, thus elevating rather than limiting the agenda-setting potential and discursive power (Jungherr et al. 2019) of the latter. This has contributed to the decentralisation of political campaigns and provided opportunities to circumvent legal thresholds on campaign spending, which may be especially relevant in an autocratizing context (Lührmann&Lindberg 2019).
This paper explores how the Hungarian governing party, Fidesz, relied on a network of pro-government social media influencers in its 2022 re-election bid, and evaluates the success of this strategy in reaching and mobilizing young audiences, with a particular focus on the network of pro-government influencers called Megafon.
The paper is available at request from the author.
Bálint Mikola is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow working on the project "Neo-authoritarianisms in Europe and the Liberal Democratic Response" (AUTHLIB), covering several administrative and research roles. His current research mostly focuses on what policies illiberal regimes adopt in power, and what variations might be detected across different policy areas. Beyond that, he also contributes to theoretical work on the definitions of illiberalism, as well as creating a multi-dimensional map of illiberalism that allows for the identification of country-specific configurations.
Ágnes Urbán (Mérték Médiaelemző Műhely) is associate professor and chair of the Infocommunications Department at the Corvinus University of Budapest (BCE). She received her Master’s Degree from BCE in 1998, and followed up with a PhD degree that was awarded a grade of summa cum laude in 2006. She is an instructor of the subjects Media Economics and Media and Audience Research. Dr. Urbán’s main research areas are changes in media business models, trends in media consumption patterns, the evolution of the Hungarian media market and the analysis of policy issues concerning media markets. She was involved in the Impact of the Internet on the Mass Media COST A20 and the Participation in the Broadband Society COST298 pan-European research programmes. Dr. Urbán is the author of some 40 Hungarian and English-language international publications in the fields of media and infocommunications. Her publications include books, book chapters, journal articles and conference presentations.
Zsolt Enyedi is a Professor of Political Science at the Central European University and a Senior Research Fellow at DI. Zsolt’s research focuses on party politics, comparative government, church and state relations, and political psychology (especially authoritarianism, prejudices and political tolerance). His articles appeared in journals such as Political Psychology, European Journal of Political Research, Political Studies, West European Politics, Party Politics, Political Studies, Europe-Asia Studies, Problems of Post-Communism, Journal of Ideologies or European Review. Zsolt Enyedi was the 2003 recipient of the Rudolf Wildenmann Prize and the 2004 winner of the Bibo Award. His most recent book, Party System Closure, co-authored with Fernando Casal Bertoa, was published by Oxford University Press in 2021.