Informations and abstract
Keywords: ideological-affective polarization, Salvini, social media, incivility, 2020 regional elections, Lega
Political polarization is the focus of a lively public and scientific debate concerning not only party systems, but also political leaders, parties and electorates, with different interpretations of the phenomenon, intended as ideological polarization (where the poles are located along the traditional left-right axis or/and along policy dimensions) or affective polarization (based on emotions, initially articulated as in-group favoritism and out-group animus). In this study we develop some insights deriving from the most recent literature debating the causes of affective polarization (mostly centered on the US case), and formulate some specific hypotheses to test in the Italian context by looking at the campaigning messages (on Facebook and Twitter) of a highly polarizing political leader – Matteo Salvini, leader of Lega – in a salient campaign such as that of the regional elections of January 2020 in Emilia-Romagna and Calabria. Specifically, we test the strategic use of divisive issues and of messages framed against others, and the feedback of Salvini’s community to the various messages in terms of engagement on the two social platforms.