Marc Debus, Christoffer Florczak
Using party press releases and Wikipedia page view data to analyse developments and determinants of parties’ issue prevalence: Evidence for the right-wing populist ‘Alternative for Germany’

Research & Politics, 2022: 9, issue 3, pp. 1-7 (e-only)
ISSN: 2053-1680 (online)

We make use of party press releases and Wikipedia page view data to study issue dynamics and its determinants of a relatively young right-wing populist party. By applying structural topic models, we analyse 2262 press releases of the ‘Alternative for Germany’ (AfD) from 2013 until 2019. The findings reveal, first, that European integration, EU economic policy, and migration are prevalent topics, but that a change occurs over time so that the focus on economic policy decreases as the focus on migration policy increases. In addition, we show – by using novel data that provides information on the number of daily hits of entries in the German Wikipedia – that the AfD took the attention into account that people attached to European integration and migration issues when preparing their press releases. The results support the findings of existing studies and imply that the content of press releases can be used for measuring changes in the policy profile of parties during a legislative period when normally no manifestos are published, and that the interest in Wikipedia articles can serve as a proxy for the dynamics of issue salience among the population. Furthermore, the findings indicate that a combination of these two data sources is a fruitful approach for studying the determinants of short-term issue dynamics.