Vienna's Mayoral Election and the Refugee Crisis on Facebook


During the summer of 2015, many thousands of people fleeing conflict regions, particularly Syria, crossed European borders in search of international protection. Their main destinations were Germany and Sweden. The situation transformed Austria into the most important transit country in Western Europe, with its capital Vienna becoming a key focal point. At a potential turning point in the Western European political climate surrounding the refugee crisis, the Austrian capital held its mayoral election. The election offered an insight into this climate, insofar as it brought the various political positions on this issue to the fore. The refugee crisis stimulated public debate, and social networks took on the role of arenas in which everyone could express their opinion. The project attempts to analyse how this debate was conducted at this defining moment. What role did the refugee crisis play in Vienna?s mayoral election? Did the issue dominate the election campaign on social networks? How did the different candidates and parties appropriate the issue? Did political actors use the situation to push their own agendas or did the positions they took just follow the issue-attention cycles in the media? What was the key factor that stimulated participation on social networks? Did different ways of framing the same issue play a role in this?


Cultural Department of the City of Vienna

CMC Staff

Liriam Sponholz



Jeremias Greber

Christiane Mayer

Gottfried Summerer

Franz Trautinger 



  • 29/07/2016 , Leicester
    Liriam Sponholz: 
    Who is turning what into which problem? Refugees and local public concerns in the mayoral election in Vienna on facebook (2015)
    Annual conference of the International Association for Media Communication Research (IAMCR)
  • 14/07/2016 , Liverpool
    Liriam Sponholz: 
    What and who is the problem? Refugees in the mayoral election in Vienna on facebook (2015)
    International Conference - Archbishop Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies

Articles and Book Chapters

Articles and Book Chapters

  • Sponholz, L. (2016). Als der Sommer zu Ende ging: Die Flüchtlingsdebatte im Wiener Wahlkampf auf Facebook [As summer came to an end: The refugee issue in Vienna’s mayoral election campaign on facebook]. Sws-Rundschau, 16, 371-398.

Popular Publications

Popular Publications

  • Sponholz, L. (2016). How (not) to scapegoat refugees: Lessons from Vienna’s election campaign on facebook. Retrieved from