How does protest affect political speech? Protest is an important form of political claim-making, yet our understanding of its influence on how individual legislators communicate remains limited. Our paper thus extends a theoretical framework on protests as information about voter preferences, and evaluates it using crowd-sourced protest data from the 2017–2019 Fridays for Future protests in the UK. We combine these data with ~2.4m tweets from 553 legislators over this period and text data from ~150k parliamentary speech records. We find that local protests prompted MPs to speak more about the climate, but only online. These results demonstrate that protest can shape the timing and substance of political communication by individual elected representatives. They also highlight an important difference between legislators' offline and online speech, suggesting that more work is needed to understand how political strategies differ across these arenas.
Barrie, C., Fleming, T.G., & Rowan, S.S. (2023) 'Does protest influence political speeach? Evidence from UK climate protest, 2017-2019', British Journal of Political Science