Fake news & disinformation vs political dissent in the EU: The cases of Poland, Hungary and Spain
In the framework of the #CatalanWeek2021 and the Conferences on the Future of Europe, the International Committee of Assemblea is organizing a conference on fake news, with Raphael Tsavkko, PhD in human rights & independent international journalist based in Belgium; and Miquel Strubell, sociolinguist and political activist.
And here’s a rough draft of what I said during my opening remarks:
Thanks to the Asemblea Nacional Catalana for the invitation. This is a very interesting and relevant topic, as what we are witnessing in Catalonia is a sample of the growing process of authoritarianism and police state that has been going on in Poland and Hungary for some years now. Not that the situation in the Basque Country for years in a role wasn’t quite similar — newspapers closed, political parties banned, political leaders sent to jail — or that Catalonia’s situation is not dire enough, but there’s still a lot Spain can do to become the new Poland or the new Hungary
So, focusing specifically on media, disinformation and fake news…
The phenomenon of fake news is obviously nothing new, nor is the fact that governments and journalists and newspapers aligned to such governments and to political parties also make use of fake news as a way to attack the opposition and stay in power.
Trump in the US, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Lukashenka in Belarus and, of course, Andrezj Duda and his Law and Justice Party in Poland and Viktor Orban in Hungary are the first examples that come to mind — but they are obviously not alone.
We end up falling a bit into that fundamental question of who came first, the egg or the chicken, when we talk about the use of fake news and authoritarian leadership. The fact is that authoritarian leaders tend to heavily use fake news as a resource, as a governing tool not only for internal audiences, but also to deceive external audiences and organisations.