Websites advocating a ‘No’ vote in the 29 May 2005 French referendum on the EU Constitution were more numerous and formed a more tightly-knit network than those in favour of the Constitution, according to a study.
The study published by scientists Franck Ghitalla and Guilhem Fouetillou of the Université de Technologie de Compiègne stands as a warning to politicians not to ignore the increasing power of blogs and other independent websites on the internet.
Some findings of the study, which was based on an analysis of 12,000 websites dealing with the Constitution referendum:
- Two thirds of the partisan sites were in favour of the ‘No’ vote, effectively compensating an imbalance in television speaking time, 70% of which went to advocates of the ‘Yes’.
- 79% of ‘No’ sites linked to other sites from their own camp, while only 64% of ‘Yes’ sites did.
- 52% of ‘Yes’ sites also linked to ‘No’ sites, while only 20% of ‘No’ sites linked to ‘Yes’ sites.
- The ‘No’ activists managed to create authoritative independent pages not controlled by the mainstream media or by political parties. A number of hitherto unknown political activists became well known throughout France due to the websites they were running.
- Eight out of the ten most linked pages were ‘No’ pages.
- 82% of ‘No’ sites associated with political parties were left wing.
- A small number of sites acted as a bridge between ‘No’ supporters of different political orientations.