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German election: Who has spent the most on Facebook advertising?

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By Matthew Holroyd
Election posters of the three main German Chancellor candidates are displayed in Gelsenkirchen.
Election posters of the three main German Chancellor candidates are displayed in Gelsenkirchen.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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In the month leading up to Sunday's federal parliamentary election in Germany, all the parties involved have emptied their pockets to try and woo voters online.

According to Facebook's own Ad Library, the main seven parties have collectively spent just under €1.5 million on ads from their official Facebook pages in the last month.

There are around 42.8 million Facebook users in Germany, the vast majority of which can legally vote, according to Statista.

Political adverts on Facebook and Instagram are therefore a potentially lucrative method of reaching the electorate.

Unlike Twitter, Facebook has continued to allow political parties to advertise their campaign messages on the platform.

Unsurprisingly, most of the money was spent on Facebook users in the German states with the largest electorate; Nordrhein-Westfalen, Bayern, and Baden-Württemberg.

The Greens were the biggest spenders overall in the thirty days before the election, shelling out over €515,000.

They were closely followed by the alliance of outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) — and its sister Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) — spent over €447,000.

Both parties were far ahead of any of their rivals, including the party that narrowly leads the polls, the Social Democratic Party.

Although the SDP have invested in a similar number of adverts, their total overall spend was just under €200,000.

Meanwhile, the centre-right Free Democratic Party (FDP) heavily invested in Facebook ads in their bid to join potential coalition talks, spending over €161,000 on more than 2,100 separate adverts.

The far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) — which became the third-largest party in Germany following the 2017 election — have spent around €120,000.

Of the major political parties, the Left were the lowest spenders with just under €52,000 splashed out.

In the majority of the SPD's Facebook ads, the party ran a personalised campaign around leader Olaf Scholz, Germany's current vice-chancellor and finance minister.

A number of adverts pushed to German Facebook users presented Scholz as a stable candidate, with political experience, under the slogan; "Scholz packt das an" ("Scholz can tackle it").

Meanwhile, the CDU featured some adverts that hailed how the party had brought down the number of bankruptcies in Germany since gaining power over the Socialists in the mid-2000s.

The Greens' candidate, Annalena Baerbock, has also published ads on Facebook and Instagram that that promise a "new start" in German politics.

Trust is likely to be a central issue for German voters, to decide who will take the reins of Chancellor after nearly 16 years of Merkel control.