The USG Open Source Center analyzes Iran’s political blogs and finds that the conservatives have redoubled their efforts on Ahmadinejad’s behalf.
OSC Analysis: Iran — Conservative Bloggers Intensify Support of Ahmadinezhad
Iran — OSC Analysis
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Document Type: OSC Analysis
In the second week (23-29 May) of analysis of 100 Iranian political bloggers President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad received even more positive comments than in the previous week of monitoring. The additional attention came from both hardline and moderate conservatives. While Ahmadinezhad’s main rival, Mir Hosseyn Musavi, received strong support from reformist bloggers, overwhelming negative comments by hardline conservative bloggers made him the most negatively referenced candidate this week. At the same time, discussion of the domestic economy took the lead among election issues
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. (a) Methodology —
OSC is conducting a project to monitor 100 highly linked Iranian political bloggers and assess their support of, and opposition to, Iranian presidential candidates. The goal of the project is to improve our ability to identify key influencers in an important part of the new media environment — the blogosphere — by capturing and assessing blogging activity. This assessment should yield a window on the sentiment of the wider community of interest — in this case, Internet-based followers of the Iranian elections.
Using link analysis and incorporating qualitative factors, we selected 25 blogs from each of four political categories: hard-line conservative (ultra-religious, right wing, supportive of Ahmadinezhad), moderate conservative (religious, right wing, not supportive of Ahmadinezhad), reformist (past supporters of Khatami’s reforms seeking more free and democratic regime), and opposition (oppose the regime). OSC is daily collecting posts to these 100 blogs and analyzing the results on a weekly basis during the Iranian presidential campaign.
The second period of analysis covered 23-29 May. During this period, OSC measured bloggers’ sentiment — as gauged by positive, negative, and neutral comments — on a select list of candidates and five political themes (relations with the United States, Iran’s nuclear case, civil rights, domestic economy, and democracy in Iran). Project data points are based on bloggers’ comments on the candidates and the five political themes. Hard-line, Moderate Conservative Bloggers More Positive Toward Ahmadinezhad Ahmadinezhad and Musavi (PressTV, 25 May 2009)
Compared to the previous week’s monitoring, bloggers in both hard-line and moderate conservative categories increased their positive comments on Ahmadinezhad, giving him twice the number of positive references that his main rival, Musavi, received from Reformist bloggers.
Soon after the Guardian Council announced the final list of candidates on 20 May, hard-line conservative bloggers ramped up rhetoric with 93 percent of their comments on Ahmadinezhad being positive. In addition, moderate conservative bloggers, who supported Musavi more than Ahmadinezhad in the previous week, gave a majority of their positive references to Ahmadinezhad.
Musavi received a torrent of criticism from hard-line conservative bloggers. The hard-line conservative criticism of Musavi was as dominant as reformist bloggers’ criticism of Ahmadinezhad. The total number of negative comments toward Musavi was nearly three times more robust than reformist bloggers’ criticism of Ahmadinezhad.
Analysis of the opposition bloggers, as in the previous week (13-22 May), provided only a small sample of data points in support of any candidate. References to Candidates Positive Negative
Hrdl Moder Oppos Reform
Hrdl Moder Oppos Reform Domestic Economy Overshadows Civil Rights Among Bloggers
During this period of monitoring, Iran’s domestic economy received the most attention from the hard-line and moderate conservative bloggers. Reformist bloggers, however, maintained their focus on democracy in Iran, and opposition bloggers continued their focus on democracy and civil rights. (For further explanation of the selected themes, see Methodology box above. )
Moderate conservative bloggers shifted their emphasis away from civil rights.
Although the candidates have been discussing their policies regarding Iran’s relationship with the United States, and the nuclear standoff, as reported by other media, only hard-line conservative bloggers, have given attention to these issues.
Analysis of these blogs indicates that, while hard-line conservative bloggers continued to positively co-reference Ahmadinezhad with the domestic economy, moderate conservative bloggers shifted sentiment to positively co-reference Ahmadinezhad with the domestic economy, compared to the previous week in which they criticized him in the same context.
Reformist bloggers continued to negatively co-reference the incumbent president with democracy in Iran and the domestic economy, and to positively co-reference Musavi with the same themes. Opposition bloggers also continued their criticism of Musavi in reference to civil rights. Sentiment in 4 Categories Co-Referencing Each Candidate With 5 Political Themes Ahmadinezhad Musavi