Ziqian Song, Liuqing Li, Edward Fox


During elections in emerging democracies, communication behavior can indicate the relative freedom of expression perceived by individuals and organizations. Communication is critical for citizens to stay informed and make sense of competing political visions, platforms, and candidates. In Fall 2014, three years after the Arab Spring uprising that originated in Tunisia and resulted in the overthrow of long-time dictator Ben Ali, Tunisian citizens went to the voting booth to elect members of parliament and the next president. These were the first regular presidential elections since the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 and the adoption of the Constitution in January 2014, and the first free and fair presidential elections since independence from French colonialism in 1956. To explore the level of political tolerance and freedom of expression in this emerging democracy, we examined the contents and metadata of tweets during the election period. We used computational techniques (e.g., natural language processing, topic modeling, data visualization, and social graphing) as well as manual inspection of tweets to identify the main topics of political discussion and related social interaction. Our findings show a lively and open expression of political opinions, candidate positions, and policy issues appearing during the period of the 2014 elections, suggesting an increasingly democratic society in Tunisia.

Andrea L. Kavanaugh, Ziqian Song, Liuqing Li, Edward A. Fox: Communication Behavior in an Emerging Democracy. DG.O 2019: 445-455


Liuqing Li

Edward Fox

Ziqian Song

Publication Details

Date of publication:
June 18, 2019
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