My last post took a look at USA presidential nominees tweets, and threw them into a word cloud to see if they were staying on message. More so, the whole post started with the assumption that American presidential candidates can spin any sort of question/answer into something about their own policy. The results were mixed. Democratic nominees tended to keep on message, while their Republican counter parts would rather slag off the democrats (e.g. The number one thing on every republicans mind seemed to be Hillary Clinton).
It got me thinking. How does New Zealand politicians fare? I think here in god zone we tend to think that politics are a lot more clean (Although… dirty politics anyone?), and so it’s doubtful that any minister would be sitting on Twitter constantly sending out attacks against the opposition. It’s not really election time (I think I’ll redo this in the runup to the election), so I don’t expect people to be heavy on policy, but let’s see if that holds true.
Same as last time. I took the last 200 tweets of the leaders of the various parties in New Zealand (Not including retweets or replies), and then removed common words (Such as “The” or “A”), and put them into a word cloud to give you a visual representation of their tweets. Here’s what we got.
John Key (National Party Leader/Prime Minister of New Zealand)
Key has some key policy areas within his Tweets. TPPA/Trade is talked about a lot as is Christchurch. Tourism (A portfolio he currently holds), also gets quite a few mentions. But the thing that interested me the most, was the fact that he spells Vietnam, “Viet Nam” as two words. Not sure if that’s correct or not.
Andrew Little (Labour Party Leader)
There isn’t really any policy in here. Lots of talk about rugby however. Typical of where Labour is at now, there is lots of talk about the “future” and “vision”. To me, the big question is where is the talk about TPP? It’s what’s on everyone’s mind right now and Little is avoiding it like the plague on his Twitter.
James Shaw (Green Party Co-Leader)
If you didn’t know what James Shaw stood for before, you do now. It’s the most common word on his Twitter, “Climate”. The massive “Paris” word there may not make sense at first, but it’s in reference to the Paris Agreement (A UN convention on climate change). Shaw is definitely on message on his Twitter.
Metiria Turei (Green Party Co-Leader)
Again, similar to James Shaw, lots of talk about Climate Change which is what the Greens are all about. Poverty and families make plenty of appearances which is something that Turei has really been campaigning on for some time. Overall, pretty good at staying on message.
Winston Peters (NZ First Party Leader)
Winston takes his representation of Northland seriously. It’s almost all he talks about. He’s also tweeting about the flag debate, and the TPPA. Plenty of talk/attacks/tweets against National, which is what we probably have come to expect from Peters.
David Seymour (Act Party Leader)
David is the MP for Epsom, so it’s good he is talking about it a lot. Other than that, we have talk about Tax, Dying (Assisted Dying) and the TPP. I like the fact that “choice” is also very prominent on David’s twitter. Even though I may not agree with many of Act’s policies (Read : any of them), they always campaign on libertarian values of “choice”.
So let’s wrap up.
It’s interesting because I’m not sure what to make of these results so far. Between Turei and Peters, they talk about National an awful lot. Reading their twitter streams, it’s definitely not as vicious as american politics, but all the same, they are still spending their time tweeting out something against National, rather than something of their own. But, then again, that is the role of the opposition, to hold the government of the time to account.
I think I was most surprised about Andrew Little’s Twitter. Very little policy going up on there. He could be going for that “everyday bloke” type vibe where he isn’t pushing policy, he’s pushing himself that he’s your mate to have a beer with. I can’t blame him, Labour have arguably had more “policy” or “promises” (right or wrong), than National in the previous elections, but have still lost.
I have a feeling it’s not a great comparison to the American Presidential Candidate’s tweets, because over there, it’s the runup to the election. Here, it’s all opening schools and photo ops for a while. In the runup to the next general election, I’ll redo this post and see how things change.