Flemish political party N-VA is the biggest spender on social media ads in Europe
In 2022, all Belgian political parties together spent about 5 million euros on ads on the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. The Flemish parties N-VA and Vlaams Belang are the clear leaders, also at the European level. This is according to a study by AdLens.
AdLens is a team of activists, journalists, researchers and data analysts striving for more transparency in political ads on Facebook. Their latest research shows that the Flemish right-wing party N-VA spent over 1.7 million euros on Facebook and Instagram ads last year. Vlaams Belang, another Flemish party on the right side of the political field, spent 1.1 million euros.
The leftist PVDA (+460,000 euros), the liberal Open VLD (+336,000 euros) and the leftist Groen (302,000 euros) complete the top five. PTB, PVDA's sister party, is the first French-speaking party at number 7.
"Flanders easily surpasses countries that organised elections last year, such as Sweden, the Netherlands or Hungary"
"These figures are very high, with Flanders being an absolute champion in Facebook spending," researcher Jan Steurs told VRT NWS. "Flanders easily surpasses countries that organised elections last year, such as Sweden, the Netherlands or Hungary. With N-VA and Vlaamse Belang, we have two parties in the top three in Europe."
The two Flemish parties share the stage with Sweden's Socialdemokraterna, which is in second place. Vlaams Belang president Tom Van Grieken is in position 12, just ahead of London mayor Sadiq Khan.
"I think the fact that Flemish parties spend so much is partly due to the success of Vlaams Belang"
"I think the fact that Flemish parties spend so much is partly due to the success of Vlaams Belang," noted Peter Van Aelst, professor of political communication (UAntwerpen). "They were the leaders in Facebook ads in 2019, a year in which they achieved good results in the elections. Vlaams Belang partly created the feeling that you can win elections that way."
Van Aelst further stressed that a significant investment in online ads ensures that people stay committed. "The idea that people only decide who to vote for just before the elections is gone. Through those online ads, parties are trying to build long-term credibility. Ads remain part of a strategy. However, they are not the only means to win elections," he concluded.