Blog post

Tweeting the Italian referendum: the hashtag war

We are monitoring an aggregate of twitter hashtags in the run up to the Italian Constitutional referendum of 4 December 2016.

Publishing date
29 November 2016

Updated on 29 November 2016

This chart is based on an aggregate of 100,000+ tweets between 19 and 27 November. It confirms an overall mobilisation on twitter against the constitutional reform.


Interestingly, peaks are linked to TV shows of the evenings, showing an important correlation in the campaign between traditional media and Twitter, which acts as an amplifier of televised debates.


Updated on 25 November 2016

An initial comparison of two groups of hashtags: #bastaunsi #iovotosi #si VS #bastaunno #iovotono #no and based on a total of 26 431 Tweets from recent days shows the prominence of the “no” camp in social media during the week ahead of the vote.


The sample was collected by harvesting tweets containing the primary hashtags #referendum" and #renzi, which were the most prominent neutral political hashtags in Italy during the last week.

Interestingly the only peak that shows a majority for the “yes” aggregate correlates with the spike during the latest appearance of Prime Minister Renzi on the TV show Porta a Porta, during the evening of the 23 November.

Our chart does not contradict the probabilistic model based on polls by Alessio Terzi, which assigned a 73% probability to a “no” victory.

In a previous post we showed  how the twitter sentiment was closer to predicting the Brexit outcome even about one week from the event, while the polls were still predicting a close victory for Remain up until the day of the vote.  This time we are much closer to a done deal, it seems, but we will only know for sure a week on Sunday.

About the authors

  • Giuseppe Porcaro

    Giuseppe Porcaro led the outreach activities of Bruegel, including communications, media, events, publications and hosted the Bruegel podcast series until October 2023. He was responsible for membership relations, supported the governance of the organisation, and was the board secretary. He also lead the Human Resources department and was part of the organisation's senior management. 

    Giuseppe's research interests lie with issues related to technological changes and how they affect policymaking and democracy, as well as to narratives about European futures and their policy implications in the current global geopolitical context.

    Giuseppe joined Bruegel in 2014, and was the head of communications and events until 2019. He has been Secretary-General of the European Youth Forum between 2009 and 2014, UN and Global Affairs coordinator at the Youth Forum from 2007 to 2009, and previously worked at the World Bank in Kosovo and Paris as well as the European Office of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement. Giuseppe holds a Ph.D. in Geography of Development at the University of Naples "L'Orientale". He is also a science-fiction writer, and author of a novel about Europe and the future of democracy.

    He is fluent in English, Italian, French, and Spanish.

  • Henrik Müller

    Henrik Müller is a professor of economic policy journalism at the Institute of Journalism at TU Dortmund University, Germany. He studied economics at Kiel University and holds a doctorate degree in economics from the University of the Armed Forces Hamburg. Following a career in journalism, his last position being deputy editor-in-chief at manager magazin, the leading German business monthly, he joined  TU's faculty in 2013 to start a new program in economic policy journalism (bachelor and master) and the Dortmund Center for data-based Media Analysis (DoCMA) in cooperation with colleagues from the departments for data science and statistics.

    Henrik is the author of numerous books on economic policy and a frequent commentator on current issues in the media. A new book on the rise of nationalism around the globe and its consequences is due to be published in Febuary 2017. Recent papers include "Fighting Europe's Crisis with innovative Media: a modest Proposal" (Journal of Business and Economics, forthcoming) and "De-globalisation, Populism and Media Competition: the Spiral of Noise" (Central Eastern European Journal of Communication, forthcoming).

  • Gerret von Nordheim

    Gerret von Nordheim is a PhD student at the Institute of Journalism in Dortmund. His research interest is focused on applications of Textmining/NLP-algorithms for the analysis of (social) media content.

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