Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

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Shocking Experience: How Politicians’ Issue Strategies Are Shaped by an External Shock During Campaigns

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Abstract:  In this article, we focus on how the issue strategies of political leaders are influenced by an external shock that completely changes the public agenda of the election campaign. The 2022 Hungarian parliamentary election campaign is a unique case to investigate this question, as Russia attacked Ukraine six weeks before the election day (April 3, 2022). The study aims to investigate whether the campaign’s issue strategies changed due to this shocking event, and if so, what are the main directions of the changes. The examination relies on a manual content analysis of Hungarian party leaders’ Facebook posts during the campaign, covering both the period before and after the outbreak of the war. First, based on the literature, we distinguish between different issue strategies such as issue ownership, issue stealing, “riding the wave,” and multi-issue and issue-poor strategies. We categorize political leaders’ issue strategies based on their issue focus before and after the external shock. Our results show that while war, economy, and foreign policy play a greater role in the communication of most political actors after February 24, there are remarkable differences between political actors. The communication of opposition party leaders seems to persist with their original issue strategies (issue-poor and multi-issue campaigns), while Viktor Orbán clearly changed his focus immediately after the invasion of Ukraine and ran a “riding the wave” campaign with a focus on war.

Keywords:  campaign; content analysis; external shock; Facebook; Hungary; issue strategies; riding the wave strategy; war



© Xénia Farkas, Krisztina Burai, Márton Bene. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.