The responses of European leaders to the outcome of last Sunday’s referendum in Greece were pretty unanimous. Germany’s vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (a social-democrat) said Tsipras had torn down the bridges between Greece and the rest of Europe. Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy said Greece must follow Europe’s rules. And Dutch PM Mark Rutte somewhat pedantically said he was «really angry» about the referendum and that the Greeks better not come up with a «lame story» (flutverhaal).
For a different perspective, I turned to Twitter. The hashtag #oxi, associated with a ‘no’ vote in the referendum, has become a bit of a symbol of opposition to EU-imposed austerity. I collected some 110,000 tweets containing #oxi (and not #nai) from around last Sunday. The #oxi tweets that are geotagged are shown on the map. It appears that quite a few tweets came from Spain and Italy, but also from the UK and Ireland, and - who’d have thought - the Netherlands (one wonders if bar de Druif in Amsterdam is an #oxi stronghold). In Spain, #oxi territory seems to overlap with areas where progressive party Podemos won in the mayoral elections earlier this year.
Note that only a small proportion of tweets are geotagged, so one shouldn’t rush to conclusions based just on the map. An alternative approach is to look at the language of tweets.
To interpret these findings properly one should take various factors into account, including the number of people who speak a language and how many are on Twitter. But whichever way you look at it, the number of Spanish-language #oxi tweets is impressive. There may well be a connection with the popularity of Podemos.
To get an idea of the contents of the #oxi-tweets I looked up the most-favourited tweets in some of the key languages. A few examples:
The joy of losing fear. Long live Greece! (es)
Today I’m going to eat a Greek tortilla. And what’s that? The same as the Spanish one, but with more huevos [eggs / balls]. (es)
Threats. Blackmail. Fear. Propaganda. The courageous Greek people defied it all. But now they desperately need our help. (en)
Tonight I feel truly European. As if Greece had voted for me against the technocrats and austerity. (fr)
A small, proud nation can change Europe. We should help them (it)
What if we take #oxi as an opportunity to rigorously curtail the world of banks, speculators and finance across the EU? (de)
I searched the Twitter api for tweets using the search terms #oxi and #nai. I analysed tweets containing either #oxi or #nai (not both). Some have argued that ochi would be more appropriate than oxi; in French sometimes oki is used and of course the Greeks have their own alphabet. That said, #oxi appears to be a pretty universal symbol for a no vote in the Greek referendum and for opposition to austerity.
The number of #nai tweets was very small (less than two thousand). Locations of tweets were derived from the location data provided by the Twitter api. As indicated, only a small number of tweets contain this information; further, there may be cultural differences in the extend to which people allow their device to send location data with their tweets. Twitter also provides language data which appears to be pretty accurate (although they occasionally mistake Catalan for French). Note that language data cannot be simply linked to countries: for example, quite a few tweets in Dutch will be from Belgium while on the other hand, Dutch twitterers frequently tweet in English.
I used Python to collect and process the data, R for analysis and d3.js and Leaflet for visualisation.